Wada Test Anyone?

After doing a search of the forum, I have not seen any mention of Wada tests (or “ISAP” intracarotid sodium amobarbital procedure). Has anyone here had one, or is anyone even familiar with a Wada test? I had one a few weeks before my craniotomy, but I had never heard of the test before I had mine and have heard almost nothing of the test ever since.

For those that are not familiar with the test, in brief, it is a test performed via a cranial angiogram in which drugs are injected to temporarily numb half of the brain. The test last maybe 10 minutes, during which a neurologist shows flash cards with words and images on them and has the patiet say the word on the card or name the item shown on the card. After the medication has completely worn off, the neurologist asks the patient to name the words and items that had been shown on the cards.

The test also leaves exactly one half of the body completely numb and paralyzed, as well as the visiual field being cut in half. Let me tell you… The test is very interesting, but certainly NOT a fun test!

During my test, I gained awareness a short while after the medication was first injected via the angiogram. I was completely out of it for who knows how long and remember waking up and having the neurologist showing me a card with a word on it and asking me what the word was. I could see the word (sort of) and knew what the word was, but I could not say it. My mouth was numb and as hard as I tried to pronounce the word, I couldn’t. They did this with 5 cards. Thn, they showed drawings of animals, cars and other items. I was able to say each one of these right away. It came out a bit mumbled, of course due to half of my face being paralyzed, but the words themselves were quite easy. At one point, my “paralyzed” side moved a bit and my arm almost hit the area of my leg where the catheder had been started. One of the doctors grabbed my arm and held it very tightly… bet they didn’t expect that!

As the medication wore off, the medical staff just tried to keep me comfortable and I went ahead and made jokes with them to let them know I was OK and was starting to come back to my “normal” self. After a few more minutes, the neurologist said, “During the test, we showed you a few cards with words on them. Do you remember seeing these cards?” I answered, “Yes.” Then she asked me, “What did the cards say?” I had no idea! I couldn’t remember a darn thing. She showed me a page with six words on it and asked which word I had not been shown during the test. Fortunatey, I could identify the new word. She did the same thing with the cards that showed the images and the same thing happened. I couldn’t remember what they were before seeing the sheet, but instantly knew the image that did not belong. It leases me wondering what else they did during that test and exactly how long I was “out” before seeing the cards.

Has anyone here had a Wada test performed? If so, what are your thoughts on the test?

For more info on the Wada test:



Wow! That’s interesting! I’ve never heard of this test before. And without being a “brainer” I see no reason that I will ever have one. But it’s really interesting about how you couldn’t say the words, but you could the animals. Why is that? The brain uses different area’s to recognize and process words than it does images???

But the “wonder what else they did and how long I was out” thing… I’ve often wondered the same thing after coming out of anesthia. Maybe not exactly the same experience, but I’ve had anesthesiologists tell me that at some points you are “aware” even when you are under. Like when they take out the intibation tube…apparently they always ask the patient questions at that point. I have NO memory of that from any of my treatments…and I don’t know anyone else that has either.

Just the thought of any medication (anesthia or otherwise) completely removing your ability to remember being aware of things…crazy!

That is very interesting. I never heard of that. I know during one of Andrew’s angio/embo they did something to make sure that by blocking a certain vessel it wouldn’t cause damage, but I don’t think it was that. It must have been a very odd feeling to have half your body paralyzed and have awareness, but not full control over brain function.

Yes, it was a very odd sensation and I have never come in contact with anyone else that has ever had the test performed on them. Apparently, the test is usually given to epilepsy patients that are being tested to see if surgery to treat the epilepsy is an option. It looks like my doctors were “thinking outside the box.” Given that my AVM was in the left temporal lobe, it’s obviously an area where they didn’t want to just go in and start cutting without knowing as much as they could about how my neurologic functions would be affected. Based on the the way I felt and was limited in function, all I can say is I hope they had seen something that left them confident that I’d be OK!

Shalon, from what I understand, I was under “twilight sedation” for most, if not all of my surgery. Supposedly I was able to answer questions that they asked while probing different areas of my brain before actually cutting the tissue, but I don’t remember a darn thing. I don’t even remember leaving the pre-op room! That being said, I have had some odd dreams over the last couple of years and during these dreams I can see the neurosurgeon and half of the operating room. I mentioned this to my mom (she is a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital where I had my surgery) and she says they must just be dreams because there is no way that I could remember any of the things that happened while I was under sedation, but I still sometimes wonder.

Regarding your question about brain functions and different areas, yes, that is most likely exactly why I was having a hard time saying words that I was reading but was able to say words based off of images I was seeing. Much like the information in one of the articles that I posted the links to in my previous email, some people with certain types of brain damage cannot speak, but they can sing. My guess is that it has something to do with the whole right-brain/left-brain thing. Since it was the left side of my brain that was under sedation for the Wada, the more logical side, which would be involved in things like reading, was out of commission. Meanwhile, the right side of my brain was still working just fine and seeing an image was still able to be processed. The brain is sure an odd thing!

Wow Jake I just read your story and boy what a story, some things reminded me of what I went through. I’m glad you’re doing better and working. I wanted to go back to work, but my fears of falling into those pots made me not want to. I’m glad I have a great supporting husband. I worked in a restaurant as a prep cook. I’m gonna read the info you left about Wada. Oh by the way sorry never heard of Wada

My husband, who also had a AVM in his left temporal lobe had WADA testing before resection surgery. This was done at UCSF. They also tested him at the time for laguage comprehension in the 3 languages that he knows, spanish, italian and english. Apparently each languag can be stored in different areas of the brain…so he could have lost the ability to comprehend one but not the other, or all 3 languages. He ended up coming out of surgery speaking and understandng all 3 again. Fascinating the brain is!