Similarity of Lateralized Rhythmic Delta Activity to Periodic Lateralized Epileptiform Discharges in Critically Ill Patients

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IMPORTANCEThe increasing use of continuous electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring in the intensive care unit has led to recognition of new EEG patterns that are of unclear or unknown significance.OBJECTIVETo describe an EEG pattern, lateralized rhythmic delta activity (LRDA), encountered in critically ill subjects and determine its clinical significance in this setting.DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTSRetrospective review at an academic medical center of EEG recordings, medical records, and imaging studies of critically ill patients with LRDA and comparison with subjects with lateralized periodic discharges (also known as periodic lateralized epileptiform discharges), subjects with focal nonrhythmic slowing, and controls.INTERVENTIONElectroencephalography or continuous electroencephalography.MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURESCross-sectional prevalence of lateralized rhythmic delta activity; EEG characteristics; etiology, clinical, and radiological correlates; and risk of early seizures.RESULTSWe identified LRDA in 4.7% of acutely ill subjects undergoing EEG or continuous EEG monitoring. It was often associated with other focal EEG abnormalities, including lateralized periodic discharges in 44% of cases. The most common conditions associated with LRDA were intracranial hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage. Lateralized rhythmic delta activity was an independent predictor of acute seizures, with 63% of subjects having seizures during their acute illness, a proportion similar to subjects with lateralized periodic discharges (57%) and significantly higher than associated with focal nonrhythmic slowing (20%) or in control subjects (16%). Most patients (80%-90%) in the LRDA and lateralized periodic discharges groups who had seizures while undergoing continuous EEG monitoring had only nonconvulsive seizures, whereas this was the case for only 17% of patients in the other groups. Lateralized rhythmic delta activity and lateralized periodic discharges were both associated with lesions involving the cortex or juxtacortical white matter.CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCELateralized rhythmic delta activity in critically ill patients has a similar clinical significance as lateralized periodic discharges. It reflects the presence of a focal lesion and is associated with a high risk of acute seizures, especially nonconvulsive.

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