The use of single bipolar scalp derivation for the detection of ictal events during long-term EEG monitoring

Frank C. Bennis, Evelien E. Geertsema*, Demetrios N. Velis, Elise E.M. Reus, Gerhard H. Visser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim. Epilepsy is difficult to diagnose using routine EEG recordings of short duration in patients who have low seizure frequency. Long-term EEG may be useful but is impractical in an out-of-hospital setting. We investigated whether single-channel scalp EEG placed behind the earlobe is suitable for seizure identification during prolonged EEG monitoring. Methods. Scalp EEG samples were selected from subjects over 15 years of age, and comprised two segments of either background followed by seizure or background followed by background. Bipolar EEG derivations in three directions (F8-T8, C4-T8 and T8-P8) were evaluated for the presence of a seizure by two experienced reviewers. For each EEG segment containing a seizure, one pair of electrodes was oriented towards the suspected region of seizure onset, while two pairs of electrodes were oriented elsewhere. Results. The EEG data contained five frontally localized seizures, five parietal, five temporal, two occipital, and four primary or secondary generalized seizures. The sensitivity and specificity for recognition of seizures was 86% and 95% for Reviewer 1, and 79% and 99% for Reviewer 2, respectively. When identifying a seizure with the lead orientation towards the region of seizure onset, both reviewers identified 20 out of 21 seizures (95%). When the lead was not oriented towards the region of seizure onset, the reviewers identified 34 and 30 out of 42 ictal records correctly, respectively. Conclusions. These results suggest that it is possible to identify epileptic seizures by bipolar EEG derivation using only two scalp electrodes. Lead orientation towards the suspected region of seizure onset is important for optimal detection sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-314
Number of pages8
JournalEpileptic Disorders
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • epilepsy
  • lead orientation
  • long-term EEG monitoring
  • single bipolar scalp EEG


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