Postoperative pseudoepileptic seizures in a known epileptic: complications in recovery

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A 47-yr-old woman underwent general anaesthesia for a squint correction. She had previously suffered a cerebral venous thrombosis, presenting as grand mal seizures during recovery from general anaesthesia for minor surgery. Subsequently, she was affected by Jacksonian limb seizures and petit mal epilepsy and had required long-term rehabilitation, and anticonvulsant and anticoagulant therapy. On arrival in recovery on this occasion, with a laryngeal mask airway (LMA†) in place, she started to convulse. The seizures were initially treated with midazolam i.v., but they recurred. Whilst observing the seizure pattern and excluding the differential diagnoses, evidence emerged that psychological factors had played a large part in her clinical picture. Her differential diagnosis had recently been amended to include ‘pseudoseizures’. A firm, supportive approach caused the ‘convulsions’ to cease within a few hours.

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