May 13, 2021

Is Severe Head Injury Associated With Functional (Psychogenic) Seizures?

Abstract, originally published in Seizure

Objectives: The aim of the current study was to compare the frequency of significant head injuries in three groups of people with seizures [idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGE) vs. temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) vs. functional seizures (FS)].

Methods: This was a retrospective study. All patients with a diagnosis of IGE, TLE, or FS were recruited at the outpatient epilepsy clinic at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran, from 2008 until 2020.

Results: One thousand and four hundred ninety-two patients were studied (559 patients with IGE, 646 people with TLE, and 287 persons with FS). Overall, 77 (5.2%) individuals of the studied people reported experiencing severe head injuries before the onset of their seizures [9 patients (1.6%) with IGE, 56 people (8.7%) with TLE, and 12 persons (4.2%) with FS; p = 0.0001]. Compared to people with IGE, the odds ratio of having a premorbid history of severe head injury in the FS group was 2.67 [95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.11-6.40; p = 0.0280]. Compared to people with TLE, the odds ratio of having a premorbid history of severe head injury in the FS group was 0.46 (95% CI: 0.24-0.87; p = 0.0170).

Conclusion: Severe head injury is significantly associated with functional (psychogenic) seizures. However, since head injury is also a significant risk factor for focal epilepsies, it may be necessary to ascertain the diagnosis of post-traumatic seizures by obtaining a detailed clinical history and also by performing video-EEG monitoring in order to adopt an appropriate treatment strategy in these patients.

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