Intermittent rhythmic delta activity (IRDA) morphology cannot distinguish between focal and diffuse brain disturbances

M. Y. Neufeld*, V. Chistik, J. Chapman, A. D. Korczyn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


IRDA (intermittent rhythmic delta activity) is an abnormal generalized EEG pattern that is not specific to any single etiology and can occur with diffuse or focal cerebral disturbances. To determine whether different electrographic features of IRDA and associated EEG findings can differentiate underlying focal from diffuse brain disturbances, we performed a blind analysis of 58 consecutive EEGs with an IRDA pattern, recorded from 1993 until 1996, in which we evaluated posterior background activity, focal slowing and IRDA characteristics (frequency, distribution, duration, symmetry and abundance). The clinical diagnosis, state of consciousness and CT brain findings were retrieved from the patients' hospital records. There were 58 patients (33 females; mean age, 58±21 years). Twelve (21%) had only focal brain lesions, while 46 (79%) had diffuse brain abnormalities, (15 diffuse structural, 19 metabolic abnormalities, 12 postictal). Normal consciousness and focal EEG slowing were more frequent in patients with focal abnormalities, however, this was not statistically significant. Of the patients with focal abnormality, 11 (92%) had normal posterior background activity either bilaterally (n = 4) or contralateral to the focal lesion (n=7). Bilaterally normal posterior background activity was observed in about 30% in both groups. Bilaterally abnormal posterior background activity was apparent in one patient (8%) with focal brain lesion and in 31 patients (67%) with diffuse brain abnormalities (P<0.0001). There were no significant differences in IRDA electrographic features between the focal group and the group with diffuse brain disturbances. We conclude that IRDA morphology cannot distinguish between focal and diffuse brain abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-59
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Diffuse brain abnormalities
  • EEG
  • Focal brain lesions
  • IRDA


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