Seizures in the elderly: Video/EEG monitoring analysis

Abuhuziefa Abubakr, Ilse Wambacq

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40 Scopus citations


Objective: Recently there has been a remarkable increase in the number of elderly people with epilepsy due to the growing size of this segment of the population. The literature provides little information on the characteristics of epileptic and nonepileptic events in the elderly. Therefore we report the results of video/EEG recordings in patients aged 60 or older admitted over 2 consecutive years to an epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU). Methods: We examined the records of all elderly patients admitted to our EMU between December 1999 and December 2001. Fiftyeight patients were older than 60, constituting 17% of the total admissions to the EMU. All patients underwent continuous video/EEG monitoring. On the basis of reasons for admission, video/EEG reports were categorized into (1) diagnosis of events, (2) characterization and localization of seizures, (3) adjustment of medication, and (4) status epilepticus (nonconvulsive). Results: There were 26 women between the ages of 60 and 91 and 32 men between the ages of 60 and 84. The main reasons for admission were diagnosis of events (57% of patients), followed by characterization and localization of events (36% of patients). There were 6 patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES); 5 were women and 4 of them were >70 years of age. All PNES patients presented with motor symptoms, except for an 87-year-old man who presented with abdominal spasm. Two of these six patients were suspected of having PNES before admission. Two patients were admitted with suspicion of status epilepticus, but neither proved to have status epilepticus. The most frequent diagnosis was physiologic nonepileptic seizures (26 patients; 45%), and 27% of these patients were on antiepileptic drugs, which were discontinued after the diagnosis of nonepileptic seizures. Complex partial seizure was the most frequent seizure type, occurring in 23 patients, 6 of whom (27%) had both complex partial seizures and secondarily generalized seizures. Conclusion: In the elderly, video/EEG results in a definitive diagnosis in the majority of cases and can assist in the decision whether antiepileptic drugs are necessary. PNES can occur in the elderly, and video/EEG monitoring can facilitate their recognition and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-450
Number of pages4
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Complex partial seizures
  • Diagnosis
  • Elderly
  • Events
  • Non-epileptic seizures
  • Video-EEG


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