October 26, 2020

The COVID-19 Outbreak and Approaches to Performing Eeg in Europe

Abstract, originally published in Epileptic Disord.

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 disease (COVID-19) pandemic affects availability and performance of neurophysiological diagnostic methods, including EEG. Our objective was to outline the current situation regarding EEG-based investigations across Europe. A web-based survey was distributed to centers within the European Reference Network on rare and complex epilepsies (ERN EpiCARE). Responses were collected between April 9 and May 15, 2020. Results were analysed with Microsoft Excel, Python Pandas and SciPy. Representants from 47 EpiCARE centers from 22 countries completed the survey. At the time of completing the survey, inpatient video-EEGs had been stopped or restricted in most centers (61.7% vs. 36.2% for adults, and 38.3% vs. 53.2% for children). Invasive investigations and epilepsy surgery were similarly affected. Acute EEGs continued to be performed, while indications for outpatient EEGs were limited and COVID-19 triage put in place. The strictness of measures varied according to extent of the outbreak in a given country. The results indicate a profound impact of COVID-19 on neurophysiological diagnostics, especially inpatient video-EEGs, invasive investigations, and epilepsy surgery. The COVID-19 pandemic may hamper care for patients in need of EEG-based investigations, particularly patients with seizure disorders. ERN EpiCARE will work on recommendations on how to rapidly adapt to such situations in order to alleviate consequences for our patients.