Seizure Clusters, Seizure Severity Markers, and SUDEP Risk

Manuela Ochoa-Urrea*, Nuria Lacuey, Laura Vilella, Liang Zhu, Shirin Jamal-Omidi, M. R.Sandhya Rani, Johnson P. Hampson, Mojtaba Dayyani, Jaison Hampson, Norma J. Hupp, Shiqiang Tao, Rup K. Sainju, Daniel Friedman, Maromi Nei, Catherine Scott, Luke Allen, Brian K. Gehlbach, Victoria Reick-Mitrisin, Stephan Schuele, Jennifer OgrenRonald M. Harper, Beate Diehl, Lisa M. Bateman, Orrin Devinsky, George B. Richerson, Guo Qiang Zhang, Samden D. Lhatoo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Rationale: Seizure clusters may be related to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). Two or more generalized convulsive seizures (GCS) were captured during video electroencephalography in 7/11 (64%) patients with monitored SUDEP in the MORTEMUS study. It follows that seizure clusters may be associated with epilepsy severity and possibly with SUDEP risk. We aimed to determine if electroclinical seizure features worsen from seizure to seizure within a cluster and possible associations between GCS clusters, markers of seizure severity, and SUDEP risk. Methods: Patients were consecutive, prospectively consented participants with drug-resistant epilepsy from a multi-center study. Seizure clusters were defined as two or more GCS in a 24-h period during the recording of prolonged video-electroencephalography in the Epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU). We measured heart rate variability (HRV), pulse oximetry, plethysmography, postictal generalized electroencephalographic suppression (PGES), and electroencephalography (EEG) recovery duration. A linear mixed effects model was used to study the difference between the first and subsequent seizures, with a level of significance set at p < 0.05. Results: We identified 112 GCS clusters in 105 patients with 285 seizures. GCS lasted on average 48.7 ± 19 s (mean 49, range 2–137). PGES emerged in 184 (64.6%) seizures and postconvulsive central apnea (PCCA) was present in 38 (13.3%) seizures. Changes in seizure features from seizure to seizure such as seizure and convulsive phase durations appeared random. In grouped analysis, some seizure features underwent significant deterioration, whereas others improved. Clonic phase and postconvulsive central apnea (PCCA) were significantly shorter in the fourth seizure compared to the first. By contrast, duration of decerebrate posturing and ictal central apnea were longer. Four SUDEP cases in the cluster cohort were reported on follow-up. Conclusion: Seizure clusters show variable changes from seizure to seizure. Although clusters may reflect epilepsy severity, they alone may be unrelated to SUDEP risk. We suggest a stochastic nature to SUDEP occurrence, where seizure clusters may be more likely to contribute to SUDEP if an underlying progressive tendency toward SUDEP has matured toward a critical SUDEP threshold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number643916
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - Feb 12 2021


  • epilepsy
  • generalized convulsive seizure
  • seizure cluster
  • video-EEG (VEEG) monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Seizure Clusters, Seizure Severity Markers, and SUDEP Risk'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this