Start with a free trial account for free content every month. Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Pseudoseizures AKA PNES

Samuel Stellpflug, MD, Aaron Bright, MD, and Jan Shoenberger, MD
00:00
22:49
Sign in or subscribe to listen

No me gusta!

The flash player was unable to start. If you have a flash blocker then try unblocking the flash content - it should be visible below.

What's the deal with pseudoseizures? Its not epilepsy and thats a good thing. Now what? Let us help to shed some light on this condition.

To view chapter written summaries, you need to subscribe.

Sign up today for full access to all episodes.

BIg T -

so much fun to listen to

Aaron B. -

Thanks Shlomo, it was fun making it. Dr. Stellpflug was great... We'll try to pick up more from him in the future.

Patrick S., M.D. -

I have always been able to sort out seizure vs pseudoseizure in an actively convulsive patient by cracking 2 ammonia caps and holding them to the patient's nostrils. It always works to break the convulsion in pseudoseizure, and, unless I am also inadvertently performing some form of olfactory countershock cerebroversion in true seizure patients, it is 100% accurate in sorting out the DDx. Quick, cheap, simple. Also noteworthy that it effectively prevents recurrent or serial pseudoseizure for the remainder of the ED visit.

piyush m., dr -

That's what I have seen - one senior ED guys doing to most of young hyperventilating seizure pts !

Jan S. -

I like the ammonia trick. I did once as a resident and got yelled at by a senior faculty member saying it was somewhat "cruel and unusual" to do to someone when you know it's not a "real" seizure. But I do think it helps sort things out. Those ammonia snaps are really hard to tolerate under your nose! Ever tried it? There's your homework....

brendanC -

One pearl to help with the breaking of the news that "this is a pseudo seizure" is to ask the patient if they have ever been molested. The association between the two is nearly 100% and when they answer yes
they think you have ESP and can further buy in to the diagnosis.
Obviously this is something that should be done in the setting that would make the pt feel comfortable answering i.e. not with their new boyfriend sitting there. Later when the patient has been clued in, it makes the subsequent referral to psych all the easier.

Michael M., P.A. -

Mel, Great lecture and who doesn't love James Brown? While ammonia caps work, I agree they can be seen as cruel. My trick is to stand off to the side of the bed where the patient cant see me and drop an old style metal bed pan on the floor. The loud clang almost always stops the seizure.

Patrick J Hawley, MD -

A very nice review with engaging presentation; the format and style were great. Keep up the good work. (James Brown is the bomb)

Scott V. -

I hard sternal rub also does the trick nicely as well. quick and easy:)

L S, MD -

I had a question for the presenters of this section: i had a patient recently with multiple events of what was very clearly pseudo seizures (psych/personality issues, -ve MRI and EEG, speaking/responding during the seizure events), who also had an elevated lactate (no other source other than seizure activity was found for her elevated lactate, and it normalized on repeat testing during her ED stay). The internist and I were discussing whether or not an elevated lactate would make it more likely that this was an actual seizure, and was wondering if the presenters had any thoughts on this. My feeling is that, regardless of whether or not the generalized tonic-clonic or seizure-like activity is generated from an epileptogenic focus, the increased muscle activity would produce excess lactate, so it doesn't make it more likely that this is a genuine seizure as opposed to a pseudoseizure.

Mohammed A. -

i always consult pysch on these pts but they never have much input. wondering if anyone knows any therapy for these people ie ssri?

To join the conversation, you need to subscribe.

Sign up today for full access to all episodes and to join the conversation.

To download files, you need to subscribe.

Sign up today for full access to all episodes.
Episode 138 Full episode audio for MD edition 246:41 min - 103 MB - M4AResumen Marzo 2013 en español Español 72:06 min - 25 MB - MP3EM:RAP 2013 March MP3 80 MB - ZIPEM:RAP March 2013 Written Summmary 2 MB - PDFNew Feature: EM:RAP March 2013 Board Review Questions 1 MB - PDFNew Feature: EM:RAP March 2013 Board Review Questions: Answer Sheet 654 KB - PDF

To earn CME for this chapter, you need to subscribe.

Sign up today for full access to all episodes and earn CME.

5.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ certified by AAEM

  1. Complete Quiz
  2. Complete Evaluation
  3. Print Certificate