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Epilepsia. 2013 Jun;54(6):1074-82. doi: 10.1111/epi.12205. Epub 2013 May 10.

Psychiatric symptoms in children prior to epilepsy surgery differ according to suspected seizure focus.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Children's National Medical Center, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, District of Columbia 20010, USA.



Children and adolescents with epilepsy have an overrepresentation of psychiatric illness. However, few studies in pediatrics have characterized specific psychiatric conditions associated with seizure localization. In addition, degree to which psychiatric illness may be more prominent in children refractory to standard medical treatment for epilepsy is not known. The aim of this study was to assess psychiatric symptoms in children with medically refractory epilepsy and ascertain whether symptoms were associated with specific localization.


Case records were reviewed for 40 children with medically refractory epilepsy at the time of their referral for presurgical evaluation. Patients received a clinical psychiatric evaluation and parents completed the Child Behavioral Checklist (CBCL). Seizure localization was verified by pediatric epileptologists, and suitability for surgical procedures was verified by neurosurgical specialists. Groups were compared based on localization of seizure foci, either in the temporal lobe or predominantly extratemporal.


The majority of the sample had psychiatric diagnoses and behavior problems, well beyond the level reported in chronic epilepsy populations. In addition, children with temporal lobe seizure foci had more CBCL behavioral problem categories rated in the clinically significant range, and also were more likely to have clinical diagnoses of depression.


Routine psychiatric evaluation prior to epilepsy surgery may be important for pediatric patients with medically refractory epilepsy. Psychiatric illness, particularly depression, may be especially prominent for those with temporal lobe seizure foci.

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