Clinical Neuroscience

[Psychosocial conditions of adult epileptic patients in Hungary]

RAJNA Péter, SÓLYOM András, VERES Judit

JUNE 10, 2004

Clinical Neuroscience - 2004;57(05-06)

[Authors analyze the possible connections among psychosocial, more important epileptological and social conditions in the population of the Hungarian Epilepsy Database. The inclusion criteria were the presence of repeated epileptic seizures, the strict diagnosis of epilepsy and at least three registered control visits. Four hundred and fifty 30 or more years old patients fulfilled the criteria. Based on the answers to four questions in the database considering some conditions potentially modifying the way of life the patients were scored and distributed into 3 subgroups (good, average and bad) concerning their psychosocial conditions. In contrast to previous expectations they found that the type of epilepsy does not influence the attainable psychosocial conditions. Presence of generalized tonic-clonic or complex partial seizure did not exhibit influence either. Analysis of the seizure frequency showed that generalized convulsions, if occurred rarely were accompanied by good psychosocial level and if occurred frequently they were accompanied by a less acceptable level. Psychopathological symptoms independently from their nature and evidenced brain lesion as etiology also made the psychosocial conditions worse. No difference was found concerning the gender of the population. It contradicts the hypothesis that epilepsy has a greater impact on females. Psychosocial conditions are better in patients with higher education and living in pairs. Based on the study authors support the statements of the literature emphasizing that for achieving the best quality of life and psychosocial level an appropriate medical care is not enough. They need also the relative highest level of education and a stable partnership.]

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[Diagnosis of epilepsy]

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[0.5-1% of the population suffers from epilepsy, while another 5% undergoes diagnostic evaluations due to the possibility of epilepsy. In the case of suspected epileptic seizures we face the following questions: Is it an epileptic seizure? The main and most frequent differential- diagnostic problems are the psychogenic non-epileptic seizures ("pseudo-seizures") and the convulsive syncope, which is often caused by heart disorders. Is it epilepsy? After an unprovoked seizure, the information on recurrence risk is an important question. The reoccurrence is more possible if a known etiological factor is present or the EEG shows epileptiform discharges. After an isolated epileptic seizure, the EEG is specific to epilepsy in 30-50% of cases. The EEG should take place within 24 hours postictally. If the EEG shows no epileptiform potentials, a sleep-EEG is required. What is the cause of seizures? Hippocampal sclerosis, benign tumors, and malformations of the cortical development are the most frequent causes of the focal epilepsy. Three potentially life-threatening conditions may cause chronic epilepsy: vascular malformations, tumors, and neuroinfections. The diagnosis in theses cases can usually be achieved by MRI, therefore, MRI is obligatory in all epilepsies starting in adulthood. The presence of epileptogenic lesion has a prognostic significance in treatment. If the MRI shows a circumscribed lesion then the pharmacological treatment will likely to be unsuccessful, while surgery may result in seizure freedom. The new and quantitative MRI techniques, such as volumetry, T2-relaxometry, MR-spectroscopy, and functional MRI play a growing role in the epilepsy diagnosis.]

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[Symptomatic epilepsies usually report themselves after a longer period of time after brain injury, after the so-called latent period. During this period progressive functional and structural changes occur which finally cause an increased excitatory condition. The process of epileptogenesis may be examined in animal models, such as in the kindling, status epilepticus, hypoxicischaemic models. Data gained from such sources support the hypothesis that the first injury results in a lower seizure threshold, but genetical and enviromental factors also contribute to the development of epilepsy and most probably further insults may be needed. The development of epilepsy can be traced back to several reasons. In spite of this, the latent period provides opportunity for the prevention of epilepsy or for the influence of epileptogenesis in such a manner that later treatment can become more succesful. Prevention should be an aim in clinical practice, as well. Medication used presently are more like to have anticonvulsive properties and their antiepileptogenic effect is questionable. Due to this fact, development of new drugs is necessary with new theoretical background. The most important influence on the incidence of epilepsy in recent years has been provided by the improvement in neonatal care. This highlights the fact that such optimal medical care should be provided in the acute period of brain injury which can terminate or lessen the risk of epilepsy.]

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Clinical Neuroscience

[Dear Readers and Colleagues!]

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[In this article the possibilities, indications, methods and results of surgery in epilepsy are summarized in general with the Hungarian experience emphasized. Surgery may provide effective treatment in about 5-10% of the epileptic population. Surgical solution nowadays became an essential treatment in medial temporal epilepsy, if hippocampal sclerosis or other lesion is present, in therapy resistent lesional extratemporal epilepsies and in catastrophic childhood epilepsies if the epileptic disorder is restricted to one hemisphere (Rasmussen syndrome, hemimegalencephaly, Sturge-Weber disease and posttraumatic or postencephalitic hemispherial epilepsies). The algorhythms of the presurgical evaluation and the current methods for study the pacemaker area, forbidden zones, and hemispherial functions are treated. The currently used type and techniques of surgery, such as lesionectomy, temporal lobe resections, hemispherotomy, callosotomy, multiple subpial transsections and their indications are described. The newest surgical approaches, as deep brain stimulation, vagal nerve stimulation, and irradiation techniques are also briefly touched. Lastly, we deal with prognostical factors of the surgical outcome, reasons of surgical failures and complications. In a brief chapter the importance of postsurgical rehabilitation is emphasized.]

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