Saturday, 20 February 2016

Teresa Susmaras - What Is Wada Testing?

The Wada test, also referred as the intracarotid sodium amobarbital procedure (ISAP), was nicknamed after the first doctor to perform the procedure, Dr. Juhn Wada.  This test is carried out during an angiography and is used to assess the location of the language and memory functions of the brain.

During the test, each side of the brain is examined independently.  In most people, speech is controlled by the left side of the brain; with the Wada test, doctors can determine which side of the brain controls this function in each individual.  Memory is typically controlled by each side of the brain and the Wada test can show which side has a stronger memory.

The Wada test is completed while the patient is awake by injecting a barbiturate into one side of the brain at a time.  While injected, the two sides of the brain cannot communicate with one and other, enabling doctors to test each side of the brain independently for memory and language function.  Doctors use electroencephalography (EEG) to determine that the injected side of the brain has stopped functioning.  Once this has been confirmed, a neurologist can conduct neurological tests.  The Wada test is mainly used for epilepsy patients prior to surgery to determine which side of their brains are accountable for memory and speech functions.

As a neuropsychology resident at Rush University, Teresa Susmaras developed her interest in Wada testing while conducting the tests in the Behavioral Sciences Department.  Since then, Susmaras has continued to develop her expertise and interest in this procedure.