Scientists have found a way to predict when somebody is likely to have an epileptic seizure. In most people with epilepsy, seizures occur suddenly and without warning and can lead to disability or even death. However, a team from Hopital de la Pitie-Salpetriere, Paris, believe it may be possible to predict the onset of seizures by carrying out an electroencephalogram (EEG).
An ECG records electrical activity from different parts of the brain and converts it into a tracing. The Paris team analysed 26 recordings from 60 minutes before a seizure in 23 patients with temporal-lobe epilepsy.
AdvertisementThe researchers discovered that there is a tell-tale transition phase in the pattern of electrical signals emitted by the brain prior to a seizure that lasts for several minutes. In 25 of 26 recordings, picking up these changes allowed the researchers to anticipate a seizure on average seven minutes before it occurred.
They say: "The ability to anticipate seizure may have considerable practical implications for the large population of patients with uncontrolled epilepsy. "If proven reliable, such an application would lower the medical consequences of seizures and improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy by decreasing the risk of injury, and the sense of helplessness fostered by the unpredictability of the disease." Dr David Fish, from the Institute of Neurology in London, said the research represented a potentially exciting breakthrough which may have implications for the future treatment of seizures.