Universitätsklinik für Neurologie, Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Epileptic seizures are followed by dynamic alterations in neurological function in the postictal period. Although the first observation of such phenomena dates back to Bravais who described postictal hemiparesis in 1827, this critical period of time after seizure offset has received little attention in the literature.
In this article, we report some of the most important postictal signs, such as postictal hemiparesis, postictal nose wiping, postictal language dysfunction, postictal headache and postictal cognitive impairment. Summarizing our own experience of the postictal state in more than 160 patients with focal epilepsy, we conclude that postictal signs can provide reliable information for the localization of the seizure onset zone in patients with focal epilepsy. Since the lateralization and localization of the seizure onset zone has become a major issue for the presurgical evaluation of those patients, we argue that more attention should be paid to the postictal state during video EEG monitoring. Moreover, in an ambulatory setting, the postictal period and its related signs is usually the only part of an epileptic seizure that is accessible to the physician's examination and might therefore add some information to the differential diagnosis of paroxysmal events, such as epileptic or psychogenic seizures [published with videosequences].