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Pediatric Neurology Testing and Diagnosis

Banner Children’s cares for kids. But we’re also tuned in to parents. During the first visit with your pediatric neurologist, it’s important for you and your child to express what your child has been feeling. Our doctor will assess your child’s symptoms and then schedule testing to determine a diagnosis. The pediatric neurologist will follow up with the test results and, if needed, discuss next steps and treatment options.

Neurological Exam

A neurological exam assesses the body's nervous system. Neurological exams typically last an hour and are not painful. This exam typically consists of using special instruments such as reflex hammers and light to evaluate how your child’s body responds. Depending on the initial diagnosis, the exam may also include testing their balance, motor skills and more. Our pediatric neurologists ensure your child feels as comfortable as possible during this exam.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test used to record and monitor the electrical activity in the brain. This test uses electrodes that are placed on the scalp to record the activity and helps the pediatric neurologist diagnose symptoms for conditions such as seizures, epilepsy or memory loss. This non-invasive test can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to complete. Depending on the results from the routine EEG, your child’s neurologist may order a continuous EEG to monitor the electrical activity in the brain for at least 24 hours.

Blood Test

Your pediatric neurologist may order a blood test to look for signs of infections or toxins within the blood. A blood test can also help rule out any other conditions or causes that present the same symptoms. Once a blood test has been ordered, our team will take a blood sample from your child, usually from a vein in the arm. This blood sample will be tested to get a better look at your child’s overall health and look for abnormalities, such as an infection.

Neurological Imaging Tests

Pediatric neurologists may order imaging tests to get a closer look at your child’s brain and organ function and structure. Knowing these tests can be scary for children, our thoughtful staff work with you to help prepare your child for the experience. They may suggest ways to keep your child comfortable such as bringing in their favorite blanket or stuffed animal. Imaging tests can include:


An MRI is a non-invasive imaging test used to show detailed images of internal organs and can help detect issues such as inflammation or infections of the nervous system. Your pediatric neurologist may order this test to get a better understanding of your child’s nervous system to look for signs of neurodegenerative disorders or irregularities. This type of imaging uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create the images. MRIs are radiation-free and completely safe. Your child will lie on a table that slides into the MRI tube. While this test is painless, the MRI tube does make loud noises as the magnetic and radio waves create the image. We will be close by to make sure your child is safe and comfortable throughout the duration of the test.

PET Scan

A positron emission tomography scan, also known as a PET scan, is used to inspect healthy vs unhealthy tissues in the body. Before the scan, your child will swallow or be injected with tracers, which is a solution that can travel through a system of the body and then be detected by the imaging scan. While the PET scan machine does not produce radiation itself, the tracers are detectable by the scan because they emit small amounts of radiation. The degree of radiation exposure is minimal—less than an x-ray—and has no known associated risks or health problems.

CT scan

A computerized tomography scan, also known as a CT scan, is an x-ray that can view a specific part of your body from various angles and then combines these images to get a complete and comprehensive picture of internal organs, the brain, bones, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Your child will lie on a table that slides into the machine. Once in the machine, the machine will begin to take x-ray images and send them to a computer. Once the images are combined on the computer, the pediatric neurologists can get a clear picture of what is happening in your child’s body.  CT scans use a low dose of radiation and there are no known associated risks.

Banner Children’s kid-connected experts draw on the best and broadest medical knowledge to care for your child. Trust the team at Banner Children’s to diagnose your child and offer support throughout some of life’s most important times.