Improving diagnostic procedure and treatment in patients with non-epileptic seizures (NES)

Seizure. 2002 Mar;11(2):85-9. doi: 10.1053/seiz.2002.0624.


The purpose of this study was to examine the incidence of patients with NES vs. NES and concomitant epilepsy in an epilepsy centre and to present a diagnostic algorithm. We collected and reviewed the data of 322 patients consecutively referred to the adult ward of our epilepsy centre in 1 year. The results of our study reveal that 44 (14%) of all patients referred had NES. Of these, nine proved to have concomitant epilepsy. Of 44 patients with NES, 20 were treated with AED on admission. In 14 cases this unnecessary antiepileptic drug treatment was stopped. In six remaining patients with NES and concomitant epilepsy, the total number of AEDs could be reduced until discharge. The maximum duration of AED treatment among patients with NES only, had been longer than 360 months (median 72 months). Much has been written about whether the diagnosis of psychogenic non-epileptic events is overused. According to our experience however, the fact that many patients with so-called 'pharmacoresistant epilepsy', suspected NES or other diagnoses are referred to a centre of excellence much too late, proves to be the key problem in diagnosis and treatment of NES. We conclude that early admission of so-called 'pharmacoresistant epilepsy' to an epilepsy centre, establishing a standard work-up and clarifying the medical terminology will improve diagnosis and lead to adequate therapy of NES as well as prevent unnecessary drug treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination / methods*
  • Neurologic Examination / statistics & numerical data
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / drug therapy
  • Seizures / epidemiology
  • Video Recording / methods
  • Video Recording / statistics & numerical data


  • Anticonvulsants