Electroencephalogram confirmatory rate in neonatal seizures

R D Sheth
Pediatric Neurology 1999, 20 (1): 27-30
The electroencephalogram (EEG) is confirmatory in 70% of children and adults with seizures, although gestation- and etiology-specific EEG confirmatory rates in neonates have not been well defined. All neonates treated for seizures and who underwent EEG were identified from 4,575 neonates admitted between 1985 and 1996 to a neonatal intensive care unit. The relationship between EEG findings (epileptiform discharges and background abnormalities) and gestation, mortality rate, and seizure etiology was examined using the Student t test. One hundred eighty-three neonates treated for seizures underwent a total of 352 EEGs: 144 of these neonates (79%) had an abnormal EEG (epileptiform discharges in 113 (60%) and nonepileptiform background abnormalities in 31). The EEG confirmatory rate increased with gestation (63% at 28 weeks vs 77% at term, P < 0.02). Etiology for seizures also influenced the EEG confirmatory rate: central nervous system (CNS) infection 95% (P < 0.05), hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy 80% (P < 0.05), germinal matrix-intraventricular hemorrhage 65%, and CNS malformations 65%. The EEG confirmatory rate was predictive of neonatal mortality (19% vs 6%, P < 0.03). The EEG was directly confirmatory (epileptiform discharges) in 60% and supportive (nonepileptiform background abnormalities) in a further 17% of neonates with seizures. Gestation and etiology influence the EEG confirmatory rate in neonatal seizures.

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