Summary: Purpose: We sought to determine the utility and results of video-EEG monitoring in elderly patients. There is an increased incidence of epilepsy in the elderly population. Few studies have assessed the characteristics of epileptic and nonepileptic seizures in this age group. Diagnostic evaluation with video-EEG monitoring is a means to distinguish these different types of events.
Methods: The authors reviewed all patients aged 60 years and older who were admitted to the epilepsy monitoring unit at Columbia–Presbyterian Medical Center from January 21, 1991, to April 12, 1999.
Results: A total of 94 patients and 99 patient admissions were identified, accounting for 8% of all admissions. The average age was 70 years, and the mean length of stay was 3.8 days. Typical events were recorded in 75 of the 99 patient admissions. A total of 118 seizures was recorded in 46 patients, and 98 nonepileptic events were seen in 27 patients. Of the patients with nonepileptic events, 13 had psychogenic seizures. The majority of patients with nonepileptic events were taking antiepileptic medication. Whereas 76% of the patients with epileptic events had interictal epileptiform discharges, 26% of the patients with nonepileptic events had epileptiform discharges as well.
Conclusions: Video-EEG monitoring in the elderly leads to a definitive diagnosis in the majority of patients in a relatively short time. Interictal recordings are inadequate in determining the nature of paroxysmal events. Nonepileptic events are common in the elderly, including psychogenic seizures, and these are often misdiagnosed and mistreated as epileptic seizures.