The diagnostic utility of hypophosphatemia for differentiating generalized tonic-clonic seizures from syncope in dogs: A case control study

Vet J. 2023 Jan:291:105914. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2022.105914. Epub 2022 Oct 8.


Transient hypophosphatemia is often detected in humans following generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS), and serum phosphorus concentration (sPi) serves as a marker to differentiate GTCS from syncope. The objective of this retrospective study was to assess the usefulness of hypophosphatemia as a diagnostic marker for GTCS in dogs. Eighty-seven and 26 client-owned dogs with GTCS or syncope, respectively, were enrolled. Dogs were included if the episode occurred ≤ 3 h from presentation, and if sPi and serum creatinine (sCr) were measured. Dogs were excluded if aged < 1 year or if sCr exceeded 176.8 μmol/L. There were no group differences in sCr. Hypophosphatemia (sPi ≤ 0.97 mmol/L) occurred in 28 dogs (32%) in the seizure group, and in no dogs in the syncope group. Median sPi was significantly (P < 0.001) lower in the seizure group (1 mmol/L, [range, 0.31-2.87 mmol/L]) compared to the syncope group (1.35 mmol/L [range, 0.97-2.71 mmol/L]). Furthermore, in dogs presented while seizing (n = 24/87; 28%) median sPi was significantly lower compared to those that were not (0.9 mmol/L [range, 0.3-1.74 mmol/L] vs. 1 mmol/L [range, 0.33-2.18 mmol/L], P = 0.050). ROC analysis of sPi as a marker of GTCS yielded an AUC of 0.757 (95% confidence interval 0.667-0.847), with an optimum cutoff point of 0.97 mmol/L, corresponding to specificity and sensitivity levels of 100% and 44%, respectively. In conclusion, sPi may, in certain cases, serve as an additional diagnostic tool to differentiate GTCS from syncope in dogs. Hypophosphatemia, especially with sPi < 0.97 mmol/L, may be useful in clinical practice to rule in GTCS.

Keywords: Creatine-kinase; Epilepsy; Phosphate; Status-epilepticus; Transient loss of consciousness.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Hypophosphatemia* / diagnosis
  • Hypophosphatemia* / veterinary
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures* / diagnosis
  • Seizures* / veterinary
  • Syncope / diagnosis
  • Syncope / etiology
  • Syncope / veterinary