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Epilepsy Behav. 2010 Nov;19(3):522-5. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2010.08.014.

Ictal consciousness in epilepsy and nonepileptic attack disorder.

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Department of Neuropsychiatry, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.


Exploration of subjective experiences during seizures may enhance knowledge of the differing natures of epilepsy and nonepileptic attack disorder (NEAD). We performed a quantitative evaluation of both the general level of awareness and the specific contents of consciousness during seizures using the Ictal Consciousness Inventory (ICI). Ninety-five adult outpatients attending general neuropsychiatry and epilepsy clinics with established diagnoses of either epilepsy (n = 66) or NEAD (n = 29) completed one ICI for each witnessed seizure recalled. Patients with a dubious/dual diagnosis were excluded. ICI Level (ICI-L) and ICI Content (ICI-L) scores were calculated for the 167 questionnaires generated by patients with epilepsy (n = 119, of which 58 from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy, 14 frontal lobe epilepsy, and 47 idiopathic 30 generalized epilepsy) and patients with NEAD (n = 48). Mann-Whitney U tests revealed statistically significant higher ICI-L and ICI-C scores for patients with NEAD (both P = 0.01). Subjective reports of consciousness experiences varied between epilepsy and NEAD, with patients with NEAD reporting significantly greater levels of general awareness/responsiveness and more vivid subjective experiences during attacks. The ICI is proposed as a potentially useful self-report instrument to supplement clinical and instrumental tests for the differential diagnosis of epilepsy and NEAD.

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