EEG Abnormalities are Common in COVID-19 and are Associated with Outcomes

Lu Lin, Abrar Al-Faraj, Neishay Ayub, Pablo Bravo, Sudeshna Das, Lorenzo Ferlini, Ioannis Karakis, Jong Woo Lee, Shibani S Mukerji, Christopher R Newey, Jay Pathmanathan, Myriam Abdennadher, Charles Cassasa, Nicolas Gaspard, Daniel M Goldenholz, Emily J Gilmore, Jing Jin, Jennifer A Kim, Eyal Y Kimchi, Harshad S Ladha, Steven Tobochnik, Sahar Zafar, Lawrence J Hirsch, M Brandon Westover, Mouhsin M Shafi
Annals of Neurology 2021 March 11

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence and risk factors for electrographic seizures and other EEG patterns in patients with COVID-19 undergoing clinically indicated continuous electroencephalogram monitoring (cEEG), and to assess whether EEG findings are associated with outcomes.

METHODS: We identified 197 patients with COVID-19 referred for cEEG at 9 participating centers. Medical records and EEG reports were reviewed retrospectively to determine the incidence of and clinical risk factors for seizures and other epileptiform patterns. Multivariate Cox proportional hazard analysis assessed the relationship between EEG patterns and clinical outcomes.

RESULTS: Electrographic seizures were detected in 19 (9.6%) patients, including nonconvulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) in 11 (5.6%). Epileptiform abnormalities (either ictal or interictal) were present in 96 (48.7%). Preceding clinical seizures during hospitalization were associated with both electrographic seizures (36.4% in those with versus 8.1% in those without prior clinical seizures, Odds Ratio (OR) 6.51, p = 0.01) and NCSE (27.3% vs 4.3%, OR 8.34, p = 0.01). A preexisting intracranial lesion on neuroimaging was associated with NCSE (14.3% vs 3.7%; OR 4.33, p = 0.02). In multivariate analysis of outcomes, electrographic seizures were an independent predictor of in-hospital mortality (Hazard Ratio (HR) 4.07 [1.44-11.51], p < 0.01). In competing risks analysis, hospital length-of-stay increased in the presence of NCSE (30 day proportion discharged with vs without NCSE: 0.21 [0.03-0.33] vs 0.43 [0.36-0.49]) INTERPRETATION: This multi-center retrospective cohort study demonstrates that seizures and other epileptiform abnormalities are common in patients with COVID-19 undergoing clinically-indicated cEEG, and are associated with adverse clinical outcomes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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