Utility of long-term video-EEG monitoring for children with staring

Anup D. Patel, Babitha Haridas, Zachary M. Grinspan, Jack Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Staring spells are a common reason for referral to overnight epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) evaluation. However, inpatient EMU admissions are expensive and time consuming. This study determined what percentage of those referred for staring had a confirmed epileptic seizure on long-term video-EEG monitoring (LTM) and developed a scoring system to help prioritize which patients should undergo this procedure. Methods We performed a four-year retrospective chart review of all children at a tertiary pediatric hospital who received LTM (long-term monitoring) for the purposes of characterizing staring. The two goals were to: a) assess how often an LTM admission captured a staring spell that was diagnosed as a seizure and b) determine if any baseline factors predicted this particular positive result. We coded several characteristics of the most recent prior routine EEG if available. We also coded parental reports of the duration, frequency, and breakability of the events as well as post-ictal mental status and the presence/absence of automatisms. Finally, we coded previous neurological and psychiatric diagnoses and medications, as well as family history of epilepsy. Results Of the 276 admissions, only 29 (11%) captured a staring spell and diagnosed it as seizure. Several baseline variables predicted the likelihood of this positive result. Based on this information, we created a scoring system as follows: − 3 points if the previous EEG was normal, − 1 point if the child took a medication for a psychiatric condition, + 1 point if the child took an anti-epileptic drug for epilepsy, and + 1 point if the spells lasted less than 1 min. If the total score was zero or less, staring spells diagnosed as seizures rarely occurred (less than 5% of the studies). Significance Our scoring system shows how consideration of prior EEG findings, medication history, and staring spell duration can help prioritize patients for LTM admission to evaluate if staring spells are epileptic seizures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-191
Number of pages6
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Absence
  • Duration
  • LTM
  • Seizure
  • Staring
  • Yield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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