Postictal psychiatric events presenting as postictal psychotic events and postictal nonpsychotic events are known to occur following seizure clusters. Accordingly, patients undergoing prolonged video-electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring studies may be at increased risk of experiencing a postictal psychiatric event, as they often have flurries of seizures during these studies.
To determine the annual incidence and clinical characteristics of postictal psychotic events and postictal nonpsychotic events in video-EEG monitoring studies in patients with partial seizure disorders and to identify potential pathogenic factors.
Thirteen patients met the criteria for a postictal psychiatric event during the 18-month study period, 10 presenting as postictal psychotic events and three as postictal nonpsychotic events. The annual incidence of postictal psychiatric events at our monitoring unit for 1988 was 7.8%, 6.4% presenting as postictal psychotic events and 1.4% as postictal nonpsychotic events. Seven patients had their first-ever postictal psychiatric event during the monitoring study. In 12 of the 13 patients, the postictal psychiatric events mimicked well-defined psychiatric entities of shorter duration (mean, 66.5 hours); they appeared 12 to 72 hours after the last seizure and remitted spontaneously or with the use of low-dose psychotropic medication. No significant differences in EEG, neuroradiologic, psychiatric, medical, or psychosocial data were found between the patients with postictal psychiatric events and a group of 13 age-matched control patients. Follow-up data of comparable duration were available in nine patients with postictal psychiatric events and nine controls. Psychiatric events were reported more frequently by patients with postictal psychiatric events than by control patients (P=.03). In three patients, postictal psychiatric events converted to interictal events.
These findings suggest that monitoring studies increase the risk for postictal psychiatric events, which neurologists need to be familiar with, as they represent important morbidity associated with these studies.