Pilomotor seizures: symptomatic vs. idiopathic report of two cases and literature review

Seizure. 2002 Oct;11(7):455-9. doi: 10.1053/seiz.2001.0645.


We report pilomotor seizures in two patients who presented with piloerection or gooseflesh spreading in a pattern similar to the 'Jacksonian march'. Gooseflesh was confined to the ipsilateral side in most of the episodes. Occasionally it spread to the contralateral side. It was also associated with other autonomic symptoms and complex partial features of temporal lobe origin. Simple partial status that progressed to complex partial status occurred in the second patient. Very rarely secondary generalization occurred. The cause was left sphenoid meningioma and temporal tip contusion in the first case. It was idiopathic in the second case, although a positive family history of complex partial seizures was obtained in this patient. Interictal electroencephalogram (EEG) showed left temporal focus in the first and bitemporal foci with right fronto-temporal dominance in the second. Parenteral phenytoin controlled the partial complex status in the second and carbamazepine controlled the episodes in both cases. To our knowledge all reported cases were symptomatic and our case of idiopathic aetiology is the first to be recorded. We endorse that pilomotor seizures are autonomic in nature and constitute a subtype of simple partial seizures. These autonomic simple partial seizures may progress to, or be a component of, complex partial seizures of temporal lobe origin. Based on their dominance in such a symptom complex and careful interpretation of the ictal history, it can be logically concluded that pilomotor seizures may be underestimated by both patients and physicians.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbamazepine / therapeutic use
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Carbamazepine