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Evoked Response Program
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Evoked Response Program

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Children’s National Medical Center has the only Evoked Response Laboratory in the Washington, DC area exclusively for children. When your child needs to see our specialists, we offer a child-friendly atmosphere and a team with additional expertise in comforting young patients.

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An evoked response test measures electrical activity in the brain in response to stimulation of sound, sight, and touch. When these senses are stimulated, electrical signals travel along the nerves to the brain and are detected by electrodes attached to patient’s body. The electrical activity is displayed for your child’s physician to interpret.

These tests are useful in detecting responses to visual, hearing and sensory stimuli in young children and infants. Results are used to help confirm a diagnosis and assess the effectiveness of certain treatments, including:
Chemotherapy treatment side effects
Hearing impairment
• Demyelinating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis
Spinal cord injuries or disorders
• Visual impairment

We recognize that at times these tests must be facilitated (for example, to proceed with chemotherapy).  Our staff is able to coordinate urgent studies.  Similarly, when the child requires deep sedation, our staff coordinates with appropriate staff.

Each year, the laboratory conducts about 800 evoked response tests. The types of tests we perform include:
  • Brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER)
    Hearing is stimulated with the use of tones or clicking noises to diagnose hearing ability and the presence of brain stem tumors.
  • Visual Evoked Response (VER)
    During this test, patients look at a flashing test pattern or flashing lights. The test is used to diagnose optic nerve problems and multiple sclerosis.
  • Somatosensory Evoked Potential (SSEP)
    This test measures the amount of time it takes for a mild electrical stimulus applied through electrodes on the wrist or leg, to travel along the nerve to the brain. SSEP testing can detect spinal cord problems.

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