Blood Test Helps Spot Epileptic Seizure

It relies on prolactin, a seizure-linked hormone

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FRIDAY, Sept. 16, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A blood test measuring levels of a hormone called prolactin can help determine whether a person has suffered an epileptic seizure, experts conclude.

The new American Academy of Neurology guideline on the test is published in the current issue of Neurology.

The expert authors reviewed all available scientific evidence on the use of the prolactin blood test to diagnose epileptic seizures. They concluded that the blood test can be useful in distinguishing epileptic seizures from seizures caused by mental illness among adults and older children.

The blood test must be used within 10 to 20 minutes following a seizure. It's able to identify types of epileptic seizures called generalized tonic-clonic seizures and complex partial seizures. The level of prolactin the blood increases after these types of seizures.

The prolactin blood test can't distinguish epileptic seizures from a fainting condition called syncope. That's because prolactin levels may also increase after syncope.

The guideline states that the prolactin blood test is useful as an adjunct test, especially when video electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring is not available. More research is needed to determine if the prolactin blood test is useful in younger children.

More information

The Epilepsy Foundation has more about epilepsy.

SOURCE: Neurology, news release, Sept. 12, 2005

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