Frontal lobe epilepsy can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms may be mistaken for psychiatric problems or sleep disorders, such as night terrors. It has not been studied as much as some other types of epilepsy. It's possible that some seizure effects found in the frontal lobe may be the result of seizures that begin in other parts of the brain.
Your doctor will first review your symptoms and medical history and give you a physical exam. Your physical may include a neurological exam, which will assess:
- Muscle strength
- Sensory skills
- Hearing and speech
- Coordination and balance
Your doctor may suggest the following tests.
Brain scans. Frontal lobe seizures can be caused by tumors, abnormal blood vessels or injuries. Brain imaging, usually an MRI, may reveal the source. An MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to produce very detailed images of soft tissues such as the brain.
To undergo an MRI scan, you must lie on a narrow pallet that slides into a long tube. The test often takes about an hour to complete. Some people may feel claustrophobic inside MRI machines, although the test itself is painless.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG). An EEG monitors the electrical activity in your brain via a series of electrodes attached to your scalp. EEGs are often helpful in diagnosing some types of epilepsy, but results may be normal in frontal lobe epilepsy.
- Video EEG. Video EEG is usually performed during an overnight stay at a hospital's sleep clinic. Both a video camera and an EEG monitor run all night. Doctors can then match what physically occurs when you have a seizure with what appears on the EEG at the same time.
Sept. 22, 2016
- Ropper AH, et al. Epilepsy and other seizure disorders. In: Adams & Victor's Principles of Neurology. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGrawHill Companies; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed May 18, 2016.
- Phillips L, et al. Diagnosing frontal lobe epilepsy in the ED. American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2014;32:1299e1.
- Daroff RB, et al. Epilepsies. In: Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 18, 2016.
- Benbadis SR. Localization-related (focal) epilepsy: Causes and clinical features. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 18, 2016.
- Gold JA, et al. Frontal lobe epilepsy: A primer for psychiatrists and systematic review of psychiatric manifestations. Psychosomatics. In press. Accessed May 18, 2016.
- Frontal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-epilepsy-syndromes/frontal-lobe-epilepsy. Accessed May 18, 2016.
- Seizures and epilepsy: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/epilepsy/detail_epilepsy.htm. Accessed May 18, 2016.
- Matricardi S, et al. Neuropsychological profiles and outcomes in children with new onset frontal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsy and Behavior. 2016;55:79.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed May 18, 2016.
- Goldman L, et al., eds. The epilepsies. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 18, 2016.
- McGovern RA, et al. New techniques and progress in epilepsy surgery. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. 2016;16:65.
- Epilepsy. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed May 24, 2016.
- Ekstein D, et al. Natural products in epilepsy—The present situation and perspectives for the future. Pharmaceuticals. 2010;3:1426.
- McConnell BV, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine in an urban county hospital epilepsy clinic. Epilepsy and Behavior. 2014;34:73.
- Finding a community. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsy.com/get-help/managing-your-epilepsy/living-epilepsy/living-epilepsy-101-basics/finding-community. Accessed May 24, 2016.
- Sirven JI (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 25, 2016.