Psychogenic seizures: Ictal characteristics and diagnostic pitfalls

A. Arturo Leis, Mark A. Ross, Alan K. Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


We analyzed ictal features of psychogenic seizures using video-EEG recordings in47 patients and reviewed the medical records to determine if patients received antiepileptic drug therapy and whether they were treated pharmacologically for status epilepticus.Unresponsive behavior in the absence of motor manifestations was the single most common ictal presentation. Motor characteristics previously considered to distinguish psychogenicseizures (out-of-phase limb movements side-to-side head movements pelvic thrusting) were infrequent. Most patients (74%) received anticonvulsants and six were treated asstatus epilepticus. Slow subtle writhing or in-phase limb movements were most likely to be mistaken for status epilepticus. Physicians assuming that the spells constituted a neurologic emergency omitted the neurologic examination and chart review and proceeded with aggressive pharmacotherapy based merely on observation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-99
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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