Semiology of temporal lobe seizures: value in lateralizing the seizure focus

Epilepsia. 1998 Jul;39(7):721-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1998.tb01157.x.


Purpose: To determine the lateralizing value of the clinical manifestations of seizures in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), we made a retrospective videotape analysis of complex partial seizures (CPS) in 55 patients who underwent temporal lobectomy and were seizure-free postoperatively for >2 years.

Methods: Blinded to clinical details, we reviewed videotapes from video-EEG telemetry monitoring with attention paid to seizure semiology.

Results: Useful lateralizing features included unilateral clonic activity (with the seizure focus contralateral in all patients), unilateral dystonic or tonic posturing (with the seizure focus contralateral in 90 and 86%, respectively), unilateral automatisms (with the seizure focus ipsilateral in 80%), and ictal speech preservation (with the seizure focus contralateral to the language-dominant hemisphere in 80%). Versive head rotation occurring < or = 10 s before seizures secondarily generalized consistently predicted a contralateral focus. Seizure manifestations less predictive but suggestive of lateralization included ictal speech arrest and postictal speech status, with predictive values of 67%. Seizure manifestations not providing reliable lateralizing information included eye deviation, type of aura, and versive head movements occurring at times other than immediately before seizures secondarily generalized.

Conclusions: In TLE, several clinical seizure manifestations are useful in lateralizing the seizure focus, although some provide no reliable information. Therefore, ictal semiology can assist in the evaluation of patients for seizure surgery, providing additional information in the lateralization of TLE.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Electroencephalography / statistics & numerical data
  • Epilepsy, Complex Partial / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Posture / physiology
  • Speech / physiology
  • Telemetry
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Videotape Recording