Prevalence of and risk factors for intracranial abnormalities in unprovoked seizures

Peter S. Dayan, Kathleen Lillis, Jonathan Bennett, Gregory Conners, Pam Bailey, James Callahan, Cigdem Akman, Neil Feldstein, Joshua Kriger, W. Allen Hauser, Nathan Kuppermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Prospective data are lacking to determine which children might benefit abstract from prompt neuroimaging after unprovoked seizures. We aimed to determine the prevalence of, and risk factors for, relevant intracranial abnormalities in children with first, unprovoked seizures. METHODS: We conducted a 6-center prospective study in children aged .28 days to 18 years with seemingly unprovoked seizures. Emergency department (ED) clinicians documented clinical findings on a standardized form. Our main outcome was the presence of a clinically relevant intracranial abnormality on computed tomography (CT) or MRI, defined as those that might change management, either emergently, urgently, or nonurgently. RESULTS: We enrolled 475 of 625 (76%) eligible patients. Of 354 patients for whom cranial MRI or CT scans were obtained in the ED or within 4 months of the ED visit, 40 (11.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 8.0-14.6%) had clinically relevant intracranial abnormalities, with 3 (0.8%; 95% CI: 0.1-1.8%) having emergent/urgent abnormalities. On logistic regression analysis, a high-risk past medical history (adjusted odds ratio: 9.2; 95% CI: 2.4-35.7) and any focal aspect to the seizure (odds ratio: 2.5; 95% CI: 1.2-5.3) were independently associated with clinically relevant abnormalities. CONCLUSIONS: Clinically relevant intracranial abnormalities occur in 11% of children with first, unprovoked seizures. Emergent/urgent abnormalities, however, occur in ,1%, suggesting that most children do not require neuroimaging in the ED. Findings on patient history and physical examination identify patients at higher risk of relevant abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e351-e360
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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