|Classification and external resources|
Abdominal epilepsy, also known as autonomic epilepsy, is a rare condition most frequently found in children, consisting of gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances caused by epileptiform seizure activity.
The most common symptom of abdominal epilepsy is abdominal pain followed by uncontrollable vomiting, usually preceded by lethargy. Symptoms also include generalized tonic-clonic seizures followed by sleep, confusion, and unresponsiveness.
No one knows what causes abdominal epilepsy. While a causal relationship between seizure activity and the GI symptoms has not been proven, the GI symptoms cannot be explained by other pathophysiological mechanisms, and are seen to improve upon anticonvulsant treatment. Because the condition is so rare, no high-quality studies exist. There have been too few reported cases to identify risk factors, genetic factors, or other potential causes.
Criteria for diagnosis of abdominal epilepsy includes frequent periodic abdominal symptoms, an abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG) and significant improvement of gastrointestinal symptoms after taking anti-seizure medication. Medical testing for diagnosis can be completed using MRI scans of the brain, CT scans and ultrasounds of the abdomen, endoscopy of the gastrointestinal tract, and blood tests.
Like other forms of epilepsy, abdominal epilepsy is treated with anticonvulsant drugs, such as Dilantin (phenytoin). Since no controlled studies exist, however, other drugs may be equally effective.
Trousseau is commonly credited as the first to describe the condition in 1868 in a boy with paroxysmal GI symptoms culminating in grand mal epileptic seizure. The first account of abdominal epilepsy supported by EEG tracings came in 1944 in an article by M.T. Moore, followed by subsequent case reports from the same group.
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- Abdominal epilepsy. 1989.
- M.T. Moore, "Paroxysmal abdominal pain: a form of focal symptomatic epilepsy", JAMA.1944 124 561-563
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