Diagnostic Utility of an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

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Guidelines recommend that patients with persistent seizures not responsive to standard antiepileptic drugs after 1 year be referred to specialized epilepsy centers for evaluation, which may include inpatient video-electroencephalographic monitoring. This 1-year retrospective, limited-focus review of 213 admissions and 3-year postdischarge review of epilepsy surgery referrals sought to determine if admission to an inpatient adult epilepsy monitoring unit resulted in a definitive diagnosis, a change in diagnosis or treatment, and whether referral patterns were consistent with guidelines. The median duration of time since symptom onset prior to admission was 15 years. At discharge, 87.8% of admissions received a definitive diagnosis. Epilepsy was diagnosed in 73.3% and excluded in 21.6%. Admissions without epilepsy had been treated with antiepileptic drugs for a median of 9 years. Admission resulted in change in treatment in 79%. This review documents the diagnostic utility of an epilepsy monitoring unit while highlighting that time since symptom onset to admission exceeded established guidelines. (Am J Med Qual 2007;22:117–122)

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