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J Pediatr. 1998 Nov;133(5):664-9.

Emergency brain computed tomography in children with seizures: who is most likely to benefit?

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC 20010, USA.



To determine whether the recently published guidelines on neuroimaging in patients with new-onset seizures are applicable to children.


We carried out a retrospective analysis of 107 neurologically normal children (excluding children with simple febrile seizures) who had undergone neuroimaging when they presented to the emergency department with a possible "first seizure."


Eight of the 107 children had nonepileptic events (gastroesophageal reflux, syncopal event, rigor). Of the remaining 99 children, 49 had provoked seizures (complicated febrile seizure, meningo-encephalitis, toxic or metabolic abnormalities), and 50 had unprovoked seizures. A total of 19 children had brain abnormalities identified on computed tomography (CT) scan; 7 received further investigation or intervention as a result of CT scan findings (2 with tumors, 3 with vascular anomalies, 1 with cysticercosis, and 1 with obstructive hydrocephalus). CT scan abnormalities requiring treatment or monitoring were more frequently seen in children with their first unprovoked seizure (P < .01) and in those children whose seizure onset had been focal or who had focal abnormalities identified on postictal neurologic examination (P < .04).


In a child, a seizure in the setting of a fever rarely indicates the presence of an unexpected CT scan lesion requiring intervention.

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