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Why is Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizure Diagnosis Missed?

Epilepsy Behav; ePub 2017 Sep 15’ Asadi-Pooya et al.


The diagnosis of psychogenic nonepileptic seizure (PNES) is often delayed—and a history of head trauma can contribute to that delay.

  • 49 adult patients who were admitted to the epilepsy unit at the Jefferson Comprehensive Epilepsy Center for PNES were studied to determine how long it took for a correct diagnosis to be reached.
  • Of the 49 patients, 39 were women, 10 were men; the study period was 2012 to 2016.
  • On average, it took 3 years (median) to arrive at the correct diagnosis.
  • A comparison of patients who received an early diagnosis to those whose diagnosis was delayed found that a history of head trauma was the only significant difference between the 2 groups.
  • 2 of 19 patients had an early diagnosis (7%) and 11 of 28 patients experienced a delayed diagnosis, which was associated with head trauma ( P=0.02).

Asadi-Pooya AA, Tinker J. Delay in diagnosis of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures in adults: A post hoc study [published online ahead of print Sept 15, 2017]. Epilepsy Behav. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2017.08.005.

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