Clinical characteristics of complex partial seizures: a temporal versus a frontal lobe onset

Seizure. 1997 Feb;6(1):57-61. doi: 10.1016/s1059-1311(97)80054-4.


The site of origin of complex partial seizures (CPS) is predominantly in the temporal lobe, but frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes may also be involved. In order to correlate clinical behaviours with either a temporal or frontal site of origin, we analysed 211 seizures occurring during invasive monitoring in 26 patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and in eight patients with frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE). Although leg movements, defined as thrashing, pedalling and kicking, hand posturing, facial twitching, sitting up, and tonic-clonic movements occurred more frequently in FLE, and hand automatisms were more frequent in TLE, no statistically significant difference was found between the two groups. When analysing only electrographic seizures that did not spread or propagated only to homologous controlateral lobes, leg movements and hand posturing were seen only with FLE, and oral automatisms only in TLE. Seizures of temporal lobe origin were longer in duration and had a higher frequency of auras. We therefore conclude that the reliability of clinical behaviour alone to predict the site of origin of an epileptic discharge is limited when the surface EEG is equivocal or the neuroradiologic evidence of a focus is not clear.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Telemetry
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology