Nonepileptic events in childhood

Epilepsia. 1991 May-Jun;32(3):322-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1991.tb04658.x.


The medical records of 27 children admitted to the MINCEP Epilepsy Program for evaluation of intractable epilepsy but later shown to have nonepileptic events by EEG with simultaneous video monitoring were reviewed. Four groups were identified: pure psychogenic events (5 patients), psychogenic events plus epileptic seizures (3 patients), pure nonepileptic physiologic events (5 patients), and nonepileptic physiologic events plus seizures (14 patients). Historical data, physical examinations, and neurodiagnostic evaluations (including previous EEGs, neuroradiologic evaluations, and neuropsychologic testing) were reviewed. Children in all groups, except for those with pure psychogenic seizures, had a history of multiple seizure types identified by parents or caretakers. A history of status epilepticus was obtained in 64% (of 22 patients), including 11 of 14 patients with physiologic events plus seizures. Abnormal findings on neurologic examination were common, especially in children with nonepileptic physiologic events. All but two patients had a history of interictal epileptiform abnormalities on previous routine EEGs. Based on identification of nonepileptic events, antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) were discontinued completely in eight patients (30%) and the total number of AEDs was reduced in nine others (33%). A diagnosis of nonepileptic events should be considered in all children with refractory seizures or multiple seizure types. Abnormal findings on routine (interictal) EEG may actually confound the diagnosis. Intensive neurodiagnostic EEG-video recording is the preferred method for distinguishing nonepileptic from epileptic seizures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography* / methods
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Telemetry
  • Videotape Recording
  • Wakefulness / physiology