Seizure Frequency in Intractable Partial Epilepsy: A Statistical Analysis

Authors

  • Marshall Balish,

    Corresponding author
    1. Section of Clinical Epilepsy, Medical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.
      Section of Clinical Epilepsy, Medical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, MD 20892, U.S.A.
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  • Paul S. Albert,

    1. *Section of Mathematical Statistics, Biometry and Field Studies Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.
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  • William H. Theodore

    1. Section of Clinical Epilepsy, Medical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.
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Section of Clinical Epilepsy, Medical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, MD 20892, U.S.A.

Abstract

Summary: We examined the seizure records of 13 patients (nine men and four women, ages 27–50 years) with intractable partial epilepsy, maintained with steady anti-epileptic drug dosages. Patients recorded daily seizure frequency on calendars. Periods of outpatient observation ranged from 99 to 1,710 days and the number of observed seizures ranged from 18 to over 400, with daily seizure rates of 0.1–4.3 per day. We used the quasi-likelihood regression model to examine the following four departures of the daily seizure counts from a Poisson (random) model: (1) linear increasing or decreasing time trends in expected seizure rates; (2) clustering, where the expected seizure rate on a given day depends on the number of seizures observed on the immediate prior days; (3) monthly cyclicity; and (4) increased variability (overdis-persion). Linear time trends were seen in six patients (four increasing and two decreasing), clustering was seen in 10 patients, and a near-monthly cycle appeared in four patients (two of nine men and two of four women). A significant amount of extra variation (overdispersion) relative to a Poisson distribution was observed in all but one of the 13 patients. Departures from a Poisson (random) model appear more common in this population of patients with medically intractable epilepsy than is commonly recognized, and have clinical importance as well as implications for the design of clinical studies.

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