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March 3, 1962

Abdominal Epilepsy and the Surgical Abdomen

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1962;179(9):726-728. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050090054014a

THE SYNDROME of abdominal epilepsy or paroxysmal abdominal pain of epileptic origin has been so amply documented that the diagnosis now is usually entertained when the bouts of abdominal pain mimic an "epileptic pattern," an abnormal electroencephalogram is obtained, thorough studies rule out disease of the abdominal viscera, and the criteria for establishing the diagnosis are adhered to. Prior to the recognition of this disorder, numerous patients had been subjected to needless abdominal surgery and some to multiple futile operations.

On the other hand, the too-ready acceptance of the diagnosis of abdominal epilepsy, because of recurrent attacks of abdominal pain, and a single, suggestive abnormal electroencephalogram, can obscure the presence of abdominal visceral disease requiring surgical intervention. The following case report is an illustration of this.

Report of a Case

A 13-year-old, well-developed male was admitted to the Graduate Hospital, University of Pennsylvania, Jan. 11, 1961, with the presenting complaint