Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)
An EMU evaluation plays a crucial role in a patient’s diagnosis and management with seizures and epilepsy. It is a specialized inpatient unit designed to evaluate, diagnose, and treat seizures, using state-of-the-art continuous video-electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring technology. Patients may come to the UNC EMU for diagnosis of typical spell or seizure, localization of seizure, or anti-epileptic medication adjustment.
The EMU care team consists of several Board-certified epileptologists, an epilepsy nurse practitioner, neurology- and epilepsy-trained nurses, Board-certified or eligible EEG technologists, epilepsy fellows, neurology residents and attending neurologists.
Annually, we perform more than 1,200 long-term video-EEG monitoring, known as LTM or vEEG, including over 500 epilepsy monitoring unit admissions, 2,000 routine and ambulatory EEGs, 10-15 Phase II intracranial monitoring cases for epilepsy surgery and 15-20 epilepsy surgeries. Out of 500 EMU admissions, over 100 phase I epilepsy pre-surgical evaluations are performed with or without usage of ictal SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography).
The UNC EMU first opened in 1984 with four dedicated private adult beds and two dedicated pediatric beds. In 1988, UNC EMU joined NAEC as a member and performed the first Ictal Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT). In the 1990s, the UNC Epilepsy Center started offering an epilepsy surgery treatment in addition to traditional medical therapy. In 2012, the UNC EMU re-opened with the current locations in the Neuroscience Hospital and the Children’s Hospital after renovation of the floor plan, renovation of rooms, extensive staff training and establishment of extensive patient safety protocols. With the expansion of EMU in 2015, the facility includes seven private beds for adults and four beds for our pediatric patients.
Since 1984, all personnel in the EMU and medical directors are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to patients with seizure, epilepsy and/or unknown spells. The UNC Epilepsy Center and EMU have actively participated with physician education and various research studies (from clinical drug trials to basic science) to provide better diagnostic and treatment options to patients with epilepsy.