PURPOSE: To investigate the frequency, localizing significance, and intensity characteristics of ictal vocalization in different focal epilepsy syndromes.
METHODS: Up to four consecutive focal seizures were evaluated in 277 patients with lesional focal epilepsy, excluding isolated auras and subclinical EEG seizure patterns. Vocalization was considered to be present if observed in at least one of the analyzed seizures and not being of speech quality. Intensity features of ictal vocalization were analyzed in a subsample of 17 patients with temporal and 19 with extratemporal epilepsy syndrome.
RESULTS: Ictal vocalization was observed in 37% of the patients (102/277) with similar frequency amongst different focal epilepsy syndromes. Localizing significance was found for its co-occurrence with ictal automatisms, which identified patients with temporal seizure onset with a sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 70%. Quantitative analysis of vocalization intensity allowed to distinguish seizures of frontal from temporal lobe origin based on the intensity range (p?=?0.0003), intensity variation (p?<?0.0001), as well as the intensity increase rate at the beginning of the vocalization (p?=?0.003), which were significantly higher in frontal lobe seizures. No significant difference was found for mean intensity and mean vocalization duration.
CONCLUSIONS: Although ictal vocalization is similarly common in different focal epilepsies, it shows localizing significance when taken into account the co-occurring seizure semiology. It especially increases the localizing value of automatisms, predicting a temporal seizure onset with a sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 70%. Quantitative parameters of the intensity dynamic objectively distinguished frontal lobe seizures, establishing an observer independent tool for semiological seizure evaluation.