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Epilepsy

Abnormal EEG focal slowing, spikes, sharps

04/13/2009

Question:

Hi - I recently found out an EEG I had last year was abnormal, although my neuro at the time did not inform me of this. I`d really like some help understanding what it means as I had no explaination or follow up: Intermittent theta frequency focal slowing in left hemisphere, maximal in mid to anterior temporal and at times central region. At times there are sharp waves or spikes in this region. Hyperventilation as well as drowsiness accentuates the focal and epileptiform activity. No significant changes to intermittent photic stimulation. Sleep characterized by vertex waves, k-complexes and symmetric sleep spindles. Thank you very much for any help. Pilar

Answer:

Sharp activity on the EEG suggests there is electrical irritability in that region of the brain. Sharp waves are a type of epileptiform abnormalities that can be seen in someone with seizures. They are NOT diagnostic of epilepsy. Epileptiform abnormalities can be seen in patients without seizures (1%). Therefore the EEG should be used in conjunction with a very careful clinical history before diagnosing seizures.

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Response by:

David M Ficker, MD David M Ficker, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati