Postictal cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities in children

Michael Wong, Bradley L. Schlaggar, Michael Landt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine the frequency and characteristics of seizure-induced cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) abnormalities in children and to identify potential alternative causes of these findings. Methods: Consecutive patients (n = 80) who underwent lumbar puncture within 24 hours after a seizure were studied retrospectively. The presence of CSF abnormalities in total leukocytes, polymorphonuclear cells, and protein was determined by using age-specific reference values. Coexisting conditions that could affect CSF findings, such as traumatic lumbar puncture, concurrent neurologic disease, and undiagnosed meningitis, were identified. Results: Eighteen of the 80 patients were excluded from the final study group because of the presence of another condition that could alter the CSF. More than 50% of the excluded patients had an abnormal CSF leukocyte count or protein level, including 2 patients with initially undiagnosed meningitis, which was subsequently detected by post-hoc polymerase chain reaction testing. In the remaining 62 patients, postictal pleocytosis was detected in only 3 (5%), and increased protein was detected in only 6 (10%). The maximal postictal pleocytosis and protein level were 8 × 106 leukocytes/L (8 leukocytes/mm3) and 0.52 g/L (52 mg/dL), respectively. Conclusions: Seizure-induced CSF abnormalities are rare in children, and alternative, often unidentified, disease processes may account for many observed postictal abnormalities. All patients with abnormal CSF after a seizure should be thoroughly evaluated for other causes of the abnormality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-377
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

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