Electroencephalography of encephalopathy in patients with endocrine and metabolic disorders

J Clin Neurophysiol. 2013 Oct;30(5):505-16. doi: 10.1097/WNP.0b013e3182a73db9.


Patients with acute alteration in mental status from encephalopathy because of underlying metabolic-toxic or endocrine abnormalities are frequently seen in the acute hospital setting. A rapid diagnosis and correction of the underlying cause is essential as a prolonged state of encephalopathy portends a poor outcome. Correct diagnosis and management remain challenging because several encephalopathies may present similarly, and further laboratory, imaging, or other testing may not always reveal the underlying cause. EEG provides rapid additional information on the encephalopathic patient. It may help establish the diagnosis and is indispensable for identifying nonconvulsive status epilepticus, an important possible complication in this context. The EEG may assist the clinician in gauging the severity of brain dysfunction and may aid in predicting outcome. This review summarizes the current knowledge on EEG findings in selected metabolic and endocrine causes of encephalopathy and highlights distinct EEG features associated with particular etiologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / complications*
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / complications*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / complications*
  • Humans