Objective: Neuropsychiatric manifestations are common in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but accurate diagnosis is often difficult. We conducted a prospective study to determine the utility of neurometric quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) as an indicator of cerebral dysfunction in SLE patients.
Methods: Fifty-two SLE patients were divided into 4 groups based on the results of neuropsychiatric evaluations. These included patients with objective evidence of neuropsychiatric SLE (NPSLE), patients with neuropsychiatric symptoms, patients with no evidence of NPSLE, and patients with a prior history of NPSLE: All QEEG findings were compared with data in an age-regressed normative database and with findings in an independent sample of normal subjects.
Results: QEEG sensitivity was 87%, and specificity was 75%. QEEG results were abnormal in 74% of the SLE patients with neuropsychiatric symptoms and in 28% of the patients with no evidence of active NPSLE: QEEG profiles varied as a function of the severity and type of neuropsychiatric manifestation present. Within this patient population, QEEG was more sensitive than magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography scanning, or conventional EEG.
Conclusion: Neurometric QEEG may be a sensitive indicator of cerebral dysfunction in patients with NPSLE and can differentiate patients with diverse neuropsychiatric manifestations. When combined with a careful clinical history and evaluation, QEEG provides information that may be useful for the early detection of NPSLE and for serial evaluation of disease activity and treatment efficacy.