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Neuroimaging Clin N Am. 2010 Nov;20(4):619-37. doi: 10.1016/j.nic.2010.07.013.

Seizures: emergency neuroimaging.

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  • 1UCSF Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging, 505 Parnassus Avenue, Room L-358, San Francisco, CA 94143-0628, USA.


The various findings observed on computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging examinations in patients with seizures reflect the variety of different causes that give rise to this common neurologic symptom. In the emergency setting, CT is most valuable in its ability to accurately identify acute abnormalities that require emergent medical or surgical treatment. MR imaging, by contrast, is usually reserved for patients with recurrent or refractory seizures. The accurate interpretation of either modality requires familiarity with how seizures are classified clinically, the most common presenting features of different causes for seizures, the relevant neuroanatomy, and the imaging manifestations of both common and uncommon causes of seizures and epilepsy. Of particular practical importance to the radiologist is the ability to recognize (1) the most common findings in patients with recurrent seizures and (2) potentially reversible causes for seizures that require prompt intervention to avoid or minimize permanent brain injury. This article surveys a variety of different causes for seizures and epilepsy, focusing on specific clinical features that can help to refine differential diagnosis, and on imaging findings characteristic of different disorders.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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