Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: clinical characteristics and outcome

Volbers B, Walther K, Kurzbuch K, Erdmann L, Gollwitzer S, Lang J, Onugoren MD, Schwarz M, Schwab S, Hamer H (2022)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2022


DOI: 10.1002/brb3.2567


Background: Clinical characteristics, outpatient situation, and outcome in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) remain to be elucidated. Methods: Patients diagnosed with PNES after video-electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring (VEM) 03/2000–01/2016 at the Erlangen Epilepsy Center were surveyed between June 2016 and February 2017. Primary outcome was PNES cessation defined as no PNES episodes within > = 12 months prior to the interview. Secondary outcome variables included quality of life (QoL) and dependency. Sensitivity analysis included patients with proven PNES during VEM without comorbid epilepsy. Results: Ninety-nine patients were included (median age 38 (interquartile range (IQR 29–52)) years; 68 (69%) females, follow-up 4 (IQR 2.1–7.7) years). Twenty-eight (28%) patients suffered from comorbid epilepsy. Twenty-five (25%) patients reported PNES cessation. Older age at symptom onset (odds ratio (OR) related to PNES cessation: 0.95 (95% CI 0.90–0.99)), comorbid epilepsy (OR 0.16 (95% CI 0.03–0.83)), anxiety disorder (OR 0.15 (95% CI 0.04–0.61)), and tongue biting (OR 0.22 (95% CI 0.03–0.91)) remained independently associated with ongoing PNES activity after adjustment. Sensitivity analysis (n = 63) revealed depressive disorder (OR 0.03 (95% CI 0.003–0.34)) instead of anxiety as independent predictor, while this seemed relevant only in patients older than 26 years at onset (OR 0.04 (95% CI 0.002–0.78) versus OR 0.21 (95% CI 0.02–1.84) in patients younger than 26 years). PNES cessation was associated with increased median QoL (8 (IQR 7–9) versus 5.5 (IQR 4–7); p <.001) and an increased frequency of financial independency (14 (56%) versus 21 (28%); p =.01). Conclusions: We found poor outcomes in PNES especially in older patients at onset with comorbid depressive disorder. Comorbid epilepsy also seems to be a major risk factor of ongoing PNES activity, which in turn affects patients’ daily living.

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Volbers, B., Walther, K., Kurzbuch, K., Erdmann, L., Gollwitzer, S., Lang, J.,... Hamer, H. (2022). Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: clinical characteristics and outcome. Brain and Behavior.


Volbers, Bastian, et al. "Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: clinical characteristics and outcome." Brain and Behavior (2022).

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