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Epilepsy Behav. 2005 Aug;7(1):1-17.

Lateralizing signs during seizures in focal epilepsy.

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Department of Neurology, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH, USA.


This article reviews lateralizing semiological signs during epileptic seizures with respect to prediction of the side of the epileptogenic zone and, therefore, presurgical diagnostic value. The lateralizing significance of semiological signs and symptoms can frequently be concluded from knowledge of the cortical representation. Visual, auditory, painful, and autonomic auras, as well as ictal motor manifestations, e.g., version, clonic and tonic activity, unilateral epileptic spasms, dystonic posturing and unilateral automatisms, automatisms with preserved responsiveness, ictal spitting and vomiting, emotional facial asymmetry, unilateral eye blinking, ictal nystagmus, and akinesia, have been shown to have lateralizing value. Furthermore, ictal language manifestations and postictal features, such as Todd's palsy, postictal aphasia, postictal nosewiping, postictal memory dysfunction, as well as peri-ictal water drinking, peri-ictal headache, and ipsilateral tongue biting, are reviewed. Knowledge and recognition of semiological lateralizing signs during seizures is an important component of the presurgical evaluation of epilepsy surgery candidates and adds further information to video/EEG monitoring, neuroimaging, functional mapping, and neuropsychological evaluation.

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