Case of simple partial status epilepticus in occipital lobe epilepsy misdiagnosed as migraine: clinical, electrophysiological, and magnetic resonance imaging characteristics

Epilepsia. 1995 Dec;36(12):1233-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1995.tb01067.x.


An 31-year-old man had a unique form of occipital lobe epilepsy. Since age 13 years, he has had episodes of simple partial status epilepticus (SE) occurring twice a month. These typically consisted of elementary visual hallucinations of flashing lights obscuring his left visual field for a period of 2 days, associated with a severe frontal headache initially diagnosed as migraine. These episodes of simple partial SE then evolved to a complex partial seizure (CPS) or secondarily generalized seizure. There were unique EEG features, including: (a) the perception of a flash of light in the left visual field with a single sharp/slow wave discharge over the right occipital lobe, (b) right occipital lobe epileptiform activity during the prolonged aura, and (c) an abnormal response to photic stimulation, with occipital lobe discharges during low rates of stimulation (3-5 Hz), time-locked to the stimulus. High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with quantitative morphometry demonstrated that the right hemisphere and right caudate nucleus were smaller than those on the left. An abnormal gyral pattern was also noted over the right parietal region. Occasionally, distinguishing occipital lobe epilepsy from migraine may be difficult.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsies, Partial / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Occipital Lobe / pathology*