Seizures in Alcohol Dependent Patients

Vikrant Bajaj, Shaveta Vedi, Sandeep Govil


Seizures are a common phenomenon in patients with alcohol dependence. It is a tendency to consider them due to alcohol withdrawal and other etiologies as well as contributing factors are ignored and not further investigated. We investigated 320 patients in outpatient services of a general hospital with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence, out of these, 120 patients gave history of seizure phenomenon. A definite history of seizure was obtained in 120 (37.5%) patients. Only 33 patients (27.5%) were able to give clear withdrawal history temporal to seizure. Neuroimaging revealed cortical atrophy in 75% of the patients while 33% had cerebellar atrophy. Transient EEG abnormalities were found in patients with withdrawal seizures. A confident diagnosis of alcohol withdrawal seizures could be made in around one forth of subjects with alcohol dependence and seizures. This finding has immense clinical implications considering that seizures are commonly reported in patients presenting with alcohol dependence and they could not be confidently attributed to alcohol withdrawal. Routine imaging may be recommended to rule out focal causes.


Key words: Alcohol dependence, seizures, alcohol withdrawal seizures

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