Diagnosis

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
  • Vision
  • 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.