John Rosendahl Østergaard

Diagnostic practice of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) in the pediatric setting

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OBJECTIVE: No formal guidelines for diagnosing psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) in children exist, and little is known about the clinical practice of diagnosing PNES in the pediatric setting. We therefore performed a national survey as a first step to document pediatricians' current diagnostic practice for PNES.

METHODS: A questionnaire was distributed to all pediatricians (n = 64) working in the field of neuropediatrics and/or social pediatrics in the Danish hospital setting to uncover their use of terminology and of the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes as well as their clinical diagnostic approach to pediatric PNES. The questionnaire included questions on 18 history and 24 paroxysmal event characteristics.

RESULTS: The response rate was 95% (61/64). There was no consensus on which terminology and diagnostic codes to use. Five history characteristics (psychosocial stressors/trauma, sexual abuse, paroxysmal events typically occur in stressful situations, no effect of antiepileptic drugs, and physical abuse) and six paroxysmal event characteristics (resisted eyelid opening, avoidance/guarding behavior, paroxysmal events occur in the presence of others, closed eyes, rarely injury related to paroxysmal event, and absence of postictal change) were agreed to be very predictive of PNES by at least 50% of the pediatricians. Supplementary diagnostic tests such as blood chemistry measurements (e.g., blood glucose or acute phase reactants; i.e., white blood cell count and C-reactive protein) and electrocardiography were inconsistently used. Only 49% of the respondents reported to use video-electroencephalography (VEEG) frequently as part of their diagnostic procedure.

SIGNIFICANCE: To our knowledge, this is the first national survey that offers a systematic insight into the diagnostic practices for children with PNES in the hospital setting. The results demonstrate a need for clinical guidelines to improve and systematize the diagnostic approach for PNES in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-65
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

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