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Parasomnias and nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy (NFLE): lights and shadows--controversial points in the differential diagnosis.

Sleep Medicine 2011 December
Nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy (NFLE) is characterized by seizures with complex, often bizarre, violent behaviour arising only or mainly during sleep. These unusual seizures and their occurrence during sleep are often accompanied by normal EEG tracings and neuroradiological findings, making it difficult to distinguish NFLE seizures from other non-epileptic nocturnal paroxysmal events, namely parasomnias. NFLE was described for the first time in 1981, but, as its epileptic origin was controversial, the condition was called nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia. Even though many aspects of parasomnias and NFLE have been clarified in the last two decades, the problem of differential diagnosis remains a challenge for clinicians. This paper discusses some controversial points still under debate. The difficulties in distinguishing nocturnal epileptic seizures from parasomnias reflect just one aspect of the intriguing issue of the pathophysiological relationships between all types of paroxysmal motor behaviours during sleep.

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