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Pitfalls in EEG analysis in patients with non-convulsive status epilepticus

By Ying Wang, Ivan C Zibrandtsen, Richard HC Lazeron, Johannes P van Dijk, Xi Long, Ronald M Aarts, Lei Wang, Johan BAM Arends

Posted 04 Oct 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.02.20205583

ObjectiveElectroencephalography (EEG) interpretations through visual (by human raters) and automated (by computer technology) analysis are still not reliable for the diagnosis of non-convulsive status epilepticus (NCSE). This study aimed to identify typical pitfalls in the EEG analysis and make suggestions as to how those pitfalls might be avoided. MethodsWe analyzed the EEG recordings of individuals who had clinically confirmed or suspected NCSE. Epileptiform EEG activity during seizures (ictal discharges) were visually analyzed by two independent raters. We investigated whether unreliable EEG visual interpretations quantified by low inter-rater agreement can be predicted by the characteristics of ictal discharges and individuals clinical data. In addition, the EEG recordings were automatically analyzed by in-house algorithms. To further explore the causes of unreliable EEG interpretations, two epileptologists analyzed EEG patterns most likely misinterpreted as ictal discharges based on the differences between the EEG interpretations through the visual and automated analysis. ResultsShort ictal discharges with a gradual onset (developing over 3 seconds in length) were liable to be misinterpreted. An extra 2 minutes of ictal discharges contributed to an increase in the kappa statistics of > 0.1. Other problems were the misinterpretation of abnormal background activity (slow wave activities, other abnormal brain activity, and the ictal-like movement artifacts), continuous interictal discharges, and continuous short ictal discharges. ConclusionA longer duration criterion for NCSE-EEGs than 10 seconds that commonly used in NCSE working criteria is needed. Using knowledge of historical EEGs, individualized algorithms, and context-dependent alarm thresholds may also avoid the pitfalls.

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