Seizure Semiology, EEG, and Imaging Findings in Epilepsy Secondary to Mitochondrial Disease

Anthony L. Fine, Greta Liebo, Ralitza H. Gavrilova, Jeffrey W. Britton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Identification of an underlying mitochondrial disorder can be challenging due to the significant phenotypic variability between and within specific disorders. Epilepsy can be a presenting symptom with several mitochondrial disorders. In this study, we evaluated clinical, electrophysiologic, and imaging features in patients with epilepsy and mitochondrial disorders to identify common features, which could aid in earlier identification of a mitochondrial etiology. Methods: This is a retrospective case series from January 2011 to December 2019 at a tertiary referral center of patients with epilepsy and a genetically confirmed diagnosis of a mitochondrial disorder. A total of 164 patients were reviewed with 20 patients fulfilling inclusion criteria. Results: A total of 20 patients (14 females, 6 males) aged 0.5–61 years with epilepsy and genetically confirmed mitochondrial disorders were identified. Status epilepticus occurred in 15 patients, with focal status epilepticus in 13 patients, including 9 patients with visual features. Abnormalities over the posterior cerebral regions were seen in 66% of ictal recordings and 44% of imaging studies. All the patients were on nutraceutical supplementation with no significant change in disease progression seen. At last follow-up, eight patients were deceased and the remainder had moderate-to-severe disability. Discussion: In this series of patients with epilepsy and mitochondrial disorders, we found increased propensity for seizures arising from the posterior cerebral regions. Over time, electroencephalogram (EEG) and imaging abnormalities increasingly occurred over the posterior cerebral regions. Focal seizures and focal status epilepticus with visual symptoms were common. Additional study is needed on nutraceutical supplementation in mitochondrial disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number779052
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - Nov 29 2021


  • EEG
  • epilepsy
  • genetic
  • mitochondria
  • neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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