Atypical duration of epileptic and psychogenic nonepileptic events

Saar Anis*, Firas Fahoum, Amos D. Korczyn, Diana Sverdlov, Sergiu Abramovici, Yair Mina, Miri Y. Neufeld, Svetlana Kipervasser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We aimed to estimate the frequency of epileptic seizures (ES) and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) with atypical duration in our epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU), in order to raise awareness of atypical durations of both types of events. Materials & methods: We retrospectively reviewed all consecutive video-electroencephalogram (vEEG) recordings in our medical center's EMU from January 2013 to December 2017 and identified patients with seizures with atypical duration. Short PNES were defined as those lasting fewer than 2 min and long ES as those lasting for more than 5 min. Results: The files of 830 adult (age > 16 years) patients were reviewed, of whom 26 patients (3.1%, mean age: 33.3 ± 9.8 years, 12 females) were diagnosed as having an unusual seizure duration. Among 432 patients with ES during monitoring, fourteen patients [3.2% (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.5%–5.0%), mean age: 33.0 ± 12.2, 5 females [had long ES durations (exceeding 5 min). In 64% of patients with long ES, the events were provoked by antiepileptic drug (AED) withdrawal during vEEG, 62% had focal lesion on brain imaging, and 64% had a frontotemporal or a temporal seizure focus. Among 223 patients diagnosed with PNES, 12 patients [5.4% (95% CI: 2.2%–8.6%), mean age: 33.6 ± 6.6, 7 females] had short PNES durations (less than 2 min) and demonstrated motor (9/12, 75%), altered responsiveness (6/12, 50%), and vocalization (5/12, 42%) as the most prominent clinical features. Conclusions: The data from our case files highlight two main considerations in the diagnosis of paroxysmal events: prolonged event can be due to ES, while short events can be psychogenic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107145
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Epilepsy
  • Ictal duration
  • Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures
  • Seizures


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