Electroencephalography in herpes simplex encephalitis

J Clin Neurophysiol. 1988 Jan;5(1):87-103. doi: 10.1097/00004691-198801000-00003.


The EEG in the acute stage of herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) can show a variety of abnormalities, including uni- or bilateral periodic sharp waves or attenuation of amplitude, focal or generalized slow waves or epileptiform discharges, or electrical seizures. No specific EEG patterns are pathognomonic for HSE, but a focal or lateralized EEG abnormality in the presence of encephalitis is highly suspicious of HSE. In the acute stage, EEG appears to be more sensitive than computerized tomography or radioisotope brain scanning. The EEG findings tend to differ in the course of illness, and the periodic discharges occur only during the acute stage. The EEG findings in either the acute stage or long-term follow-up do not predict the chance of survival or severity of disability, and EEG changes appear to lag behind the clinical changes. EEG results can become normal in both adults and neonates when the acute stage is over.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electroencephalography*
  • Encephalitis / diagnosis
  • Encephalitis / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsies, Partial / physiopathology
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Herpes Simplex / diagnosis
  • Herpes Simplex / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis