Sodium Amytal Test/WADA Test
A Sodium Amytal or WADA test is needed
as part of your work-up for epilepsy surgery.
This test helps us locate which side of your
brain supports language and looks at the
blood vessels of your brain. It tries to
predict if the side of the brain that doesn't
have surgery can support memory and
language functions. The purpose of this
handout is to help explain what will happen
before, during, and after the test. You may
find it helpful to bring this handout with you
when you come for the test.
If you are allergic to shellfish (shrimp,
lobster, etc.) or have ever had a rash from
iodine put on your skin or into your
arteries or veins during other tests, please
call our office right away: (608) 263-9578.
About the Test
This test is done as part of a special X-ray
called a cerebral angiogram. This X-ray
uses dye to show the blood vessels in the
brain. Testing is done by doctors called
Before You Come to the Hospital
You or your child will need to have a
physical exam done within 30 days of the
scheduled WADA. This can be done by
your local doctor. Along with the exam,
some blood work will be done. We need
the lab results no later than 1 week before
Certain medicines can affect your body’s
ability to clot. Please be sure your doctor is
aware of the medicines you are taking before
your angiogram with WADA testing is
scheduled. The only medicine that affects
clotting that must be stopped before the
angiogram is warfarin (Coumadin ).
Sometimes, patients may need to be
hospitalized for a few days before the test if
they are taking warfarin so we can safely
switch you over to a different blood thinner.
Do not stop taking warfarin without first
talking with your doctor.
Tell us about your allergies. Let us know if
you are allergic to x-ray dyes, IV contrast,
iodine, antibiotics, anesthetic agents, latex,
or any other medicines that you may have
Let us know if you have sleep apnea or use a
CPAP machine at night when you sleep.
This is important to know so we can safely
use medicines that make you sleepy during
the procedure. Bring your CPAP machine
with you on the day of the procedure.
Let us know if you have had any fever or
pain in the week before your test. We also
need to know if you have had any
procedures or tests in the month before your
Make plans to have someone drive you
home after the test. You cannot drive for
24 hours after the test. Plan to have
someone stay with you that night, just in
case any problems occur and you need care
On the Day of the Test
Do not eat on the morning of the test!
You should take your seizure medicine with
one or two glasses of water or fruit juice
before 6 a.m. on the morning of the test. Do
not take any other medicine until you talk to
the doctor on the day of the test. Bring a
one-day supply of your medicines with you.
You must be at the hospital by
a.m. Please take the Atrium elevators to the
3rd floor Radiology reception desk to check
in. For anyone under 18 years old: Please
report to the Pediatric Day Treatment Center
at the American Family Children’s Hospital.
You will be asked to change into a hospital
gown. An IV will be started in one of your
arms so that we can give you extra fluids
during the test. One of the doctors will meet
you in the Radiology prep area and talk to
you about the test itself. The doctor will tell
you about the procedure in more detail,
explain risks and benefits, and obtain your
informed consent. Feel free to ask questions
and talk about your concerns at this time.
Next, the EEG (Electro EncephaloGraphy)
technicians will come and place EEG
electrodes (wires) on your scalp so that we
can record your brainwaves during the test.
During the Test
Around a.m. you will be
helped onto a cart. A nurse will take you to
the X-ray room. Your family may wait in
the waiting area. When you arrive, you will
move onto the table where the test takes
place. From now on you must lie very still!
When the test begins, the doctor will numb
one side of your groin and put a small
catheter (IV tube) into an artery in your
groin. Only one needle puncture is needed
to test both sides of the brain. Using an X-
ray camera called a fluoroscope, the IV is
threaded up to one of the arteries in your
neck (carotid) that supplies blood to the
brain. Next, a dye is pumped into the IV
that outlines the blood vessels on that side of
If the doctor decides that the blood vessels
are working well, a drug called sodium
amytal is put into the IV. The drug will put
one side of your brain to sleep; the other side
of your brain will be awake and able to
The doctor will ask you questions.
Sometimes people get frustrated during this
part of the test, but this goes away when the
medicine wears off. When the test is over
for that side of your brain, the X-ray doctor
will move the IV to the other carotid artery.
Then the test will be repeated on the other
side. The entire test lasts about 90 minutes.
After the Test
When the IV has been taken out, the doctor
will hold pressure on your groin for at least
10 minutes to help the artery seal the
puncture. You will be lifted onto the cart
and taken back to the recovery area. There
will be a bandage on your groin. You will
not be allowed to move your leg on that side
for anywhere between 2 and 6 hours. The
nurses will check your blood pressure and
pulse often. They will also check your groin
to make sure there is no bleeding, bruising,
You may eat as soon as you feel like it after
the test. You should drink extra fluids to
help flush the dye from your body. You will
have to use a bedpan or urinal for the first
few hours after the test. A nurse will help
you to the bathroom when you are allowed
to get up later. If there are no problems, like
bleeding or swelling, you may go home the
The team will review the results of the test
and decide about your need for surgery. The
neurosurgery doctor or nurse will call you
about the decision in 2 to 3 weeks. You will
have a visit in the neurosurgery and/or
epilepsy clinic about 4 weeks after your test.
Keep the band-aid over the groin site for the
next day. Drink 10-20 glasses of fluid the
first 24 hours. If bleeding occurs at the
puncture site, apply direct pressure and
go to the nearest emergency room. You
should not drink any alcohol during this
When to Call the Doctor
• The puncture site becomes red and/or
• Any yellow or green drainage comes
from the site.
• Swelling occurs at the site.
• Your temperature goes over 100 θ F
• A large bruise appears under or
around the site.
• Severe pain or spasm occurs in the
• Numbness or tingling occurs in foot
• Itching, hives or rash appears.
For questions after the test, call
(608) 262-0486. This will give you the
paging operator. Ask for the
neuroendovascular doctor on call. Give the
operator your name and phone number with
the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 4/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4490