Correlates of posttraumatic epilepsy 35 years following combat brain injury.
Raymont V., Salazar AM., Lipsky R., Goldman D., Tasick G., Grafman J.
BACKGROUND: The Vietnam Head Injury Study (VHIS) is a prospective, longitudinal follow-up of 1,221 Vietnam War veterans with mostly penetrating head injuries (PHIs). The high prevalence (45%-53%) of posttraumatic epilepsy (PTE) in this unique cohort makes it valuable for study. METHODS: A standardized multidisciplinary neurologic, cognitive, behavioral, and brain imaging evaluation was conducted on 199 VHIS veterans plus uninjured controls, some 30 to 35 years after injury, as part of phase 3 of this study. RESULTS: The prevalence of seizures (87 patients, 43.7%) was similar to that found during phase 2 evaluations 20 years earlier, but 11 of 87 (12.6%) reported very late onset of PTE after phase 2 (more than 14 years after injury). Those patients were not different from patients with earlier-onset PTE in any of the measures studied. Within the phase 3 cohort, the most common seizure type last experienced was complex partial seizures (31.0%), with increasing frequency after injury. Of subjects with PTE, 88% were receiving anticonvulsants. Left parietal lobe lesions and retained ferric metal fragments were associated with PTE in a logistic regression model. Total brain volume loss predicted seizure frequency. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with PHI carry a high risk of PTE decades after their injury, and so require long-term medical follow-up. Lesion location, lesion size, and lesion type were predictors of PTE.