Scientific article
Open access

Added value of advanced workup after the first seizure : A 7‐year cohort study

Published inEpilepsia, vol. 64, no. 12, p. 3246-3256
Publication date2023-10-07
First online date2023-10-07


This study was undertaken to establish whether advanced workup including long‐term electroencephalography (LT‐EEG) and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides an additional yield for the diagnosis of new onset epilepsy (NOE) in patients presenting with a first seizure event (FSE).


In this population‐based study, all adult (≥16 years) patients presenting with FSE in the emergency department (ED) between March 1, 2010 and March 1, 2017 were assessed. Patients with obvious nonepileptic or acute symptomatic seizures were excluded. Routine EEG, LT‐EEG, brain computed tomography (CT), and brain MRI were performed as part of the initial workup. These examinations' sensitivity and specificity were calculated on the basis of the final diagnosis after 2 years, along with the added value of advanced workup (MRI and LT‐EEG) over routine workup (routine EEG and CT).


Of the 1010 patients presenting with FSE in the ED, a definite diagnosis of NOE was obtained for 501 patients (49.6%). Sensitivity of LT‐EEG was higher than that of routine EEG (54.39% vs. 25.5%, p < .001). Similarly, sensitivity of MRI was higher than that of CT (67.98% vs. 54.72%, p = .009). Brain MRI showed epileptogenic lesions in an additional 32% compared to brain CT. If only MRI and LT‐EEG were considered, five would have been incorrectly diagnosed as nonepileptic (5/100, 5%) compared to patients with routine EEG and MRI (25/100, 25%, p = .0001). In patients with all four examinations, advanced workup provided an overall additional yield of 50% compared to routine workup.


Our results demonstrate the remarkable added value of the advanced workup launched already in the ED for the diagnosis of NOE versus nonepileptic causes of seizure mimickers. Our findings suggest the benefit of first‐seizure tracks or even units with overnight EEG, similar to stroke units, activated upon admission in the ED.

  • EEG
  • MRI
  • Emergency department
  • First seizure
  • Long-term EEG
Citation (ISO format)
DE STEFANO, Pia et al. Added value of advanced workup after the first seizure : A 7‐year cohort study. In: Epilepsia, 2023, vol. 64, n° 12, p. 3246–3256. doi: 10.1111/epi.17771
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0013-9580

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