Epilepsy causing pupillary hippus: an unusual semiology

Epilepsia. 2011 Aug;52(8):e93-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03137.x. Epub 2011 Jun 21.


Altered pupillary behavior is commonly present during and following epileptic seizures, but symptomatic pupillary hippus as the main feature of a seizure has not been reported in the modern literature. We present the case of a woman with epileptic seizures consisting of sustained fluctuation of perception of brightness. Bilateral pupillary hippus is the main semiologic feature.This autonomic phenomenon is selective for the pupils and does not involve other autonomic-mediated responses. An ictal video illustrates this phenomenon. The epileptogenic region, determined by ictal scalp and intracranial electroencephalography (EEG), is localized in the right posterior parietooccipital areas. Pupillary reflexes can be overridden by cortical input; here authors review the literature and discus the physiologic mechanisms underlying this autonomic phenomenon. Fluctuation in perceptual brightness during epileptic seizures may have a basis in ictal pupillary hippus.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / surgery
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pupil Disorders / etiology*