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Gelastic Seizures and EEG

Gelastic seizures are a rare form of epileptic seizure characterized by sudden and unprovoked bouts of laughter or giggling. They are often accompanied by other symptoms such as facial twitching, head nods, and vocalizations. Gelastic seizures can be difficult to diagnose, as they are not always associated with the typical symptoms of epilepsy, such as convulsions or loss of consciousness.


Electroencephalography (EEG) is a valuable tool for the diagnosis and management of gelastic seizures. EEG can help identify abnormal brain activity that may be associated with these seizures, which can in turn help physicians determine the best treatment options for patients. In this article, we will explore the EEG correlates of gelastic seizures and present four case studies to illustrate their clinical presentation and management.

EEG Correlates of Gelastic Seizures


EEG recordings during gelastic seizures often show a characteristic pattern of activity called "hypersynchronous activity". This refers to the synchronized firing of a large number of neurons in a specific area of the brain. The location of this activity can vary, but it often occurs in the temporal lobes, particularly in the mesial temporal structures such as the hippocampus and amygdala. During the interictal period (the time between seizures), EEG may show abnormal spikes or sharp waves in the same regions where the hypersynchronous activity occurs during seizures. These are known as interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) and are thought to be a marker of the patient's susceptibility to seizures. In addition to hypersynchronous activity and IEDs, EEG recordings may also show other patterns of abnormal activity, such as slow waves or generalized epileptiform discharges. The specific EEG waveform patterns seen in gelastic seizures can vary depending on the patient and the location of the seizure focus in the brain. However, the presence of hypersynchronous activity and IEDs in the temporal lobes is a common finding in many cases of gelastic seizures.

EEG Waveforms
Gelastic Seizure EEG Sample

Case Studies


Case 1: A 12-year-old girl presented with episodes of sudden laughter and staring spells. EEG showed IEDs in the temporal lobes and spikes in the right temporal region. The patient was diagnosed with gelastic seizures and started on anti-epileptic medication. She has been seizure-free for the past two years.


Case 2: A 33-year-old man presented with sudden episodes of laughter and a feeling of dizziness. EEG showed IEDs in the right temporal region. MRI revealed a small tumor in the same region, which was surgically removed. The patient has been seizure-free since the surgery.


Case 3: A 6-year-old boy presented with episodes of sudden laughter and head nodding. EEG showed spikes in the left temporal region. The patient was diagnosed with gelastic seizures and started on anti-epileptic medication. The seizures were well controlled with medication, but EEG continued to show IEDs in the same region.


Case 4: A 25-year-old woman presented with episodes of sudden laughter and tingling sensations in her arms. EEG showed spikes in the left temporal region. The patient was started on anti-epileptic medication, but the seizures persisted. MRI revealed a small tumor in the same region, which was removed surgically. The patient has been seizure-free for the past year.


Treatment of Gelastic Seizures

The treatment of gelastic seizures depends on the underlying cause, frequency and severity of the seizures, as well as the patient's overall health and individual preferences. Treatment options for gelastic seizures can include medication, surgery, and lifestyle modifications.

  1. Medication: Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are commonly used to treat gelastic seizures. These drugs work by suppressing abnormal electrical activity in the brain. AEDs are usually the first line of treatment for patients with gelastic seizures, and they can be very effective in controlling seizures in many cases. However, some patients may not respond well to medication, and may require additional treatment options.

  2. Surgery: If medication is not effective, surgery may be considered as a treatment option. The type of surgery performed will depend on the location of the seizure focus in the brain. In some cases, the seizure focus may be removed entirely through a surgical procedure called a resection. In other cases, a procedure called stereotactic radiosurgery may be used, which involves using highly focused radiation to destroy the seizure focus.

  3. Lifestyle modifications: Making certain lifestyle modifications can also be helpful in managing gelastic seizures. Patients may benefit from reducing stress and getting enough sleep. Avoiding certain triggers, such as flashing lights or loud noises, may also help prevent seizures.

  4. Other therapies: In some cases, other therapies may be used to manage gelastic seizures, such as ketogenic diets, biofeedback, or vagus nerve stimulation. These therapies are generally used in patients who have not responded well to medication or surgery.

Gelastic seizures are a rare form of epilepsy that can be difficult to diagnose. EEG is a valuable tool for identifying abnormal brain activity associated with these seizures, which can aid in diagnosis and treatment planning.


by "The Integris Neuro Team"

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