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Is there a need for ophthalmological examinations after a first seizure in paediatric patients?

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In contrast to the recommendations of the International Liga against Epilepsy, many hospitals perform routinely complete ophthalmological examinations in children admitted after a first seizure. As there is no study available to date to prove the benefit of complete eye examinations in first seizure diagnosis, we conducted a study to analyse the value of a complete ophthalmological examination. All children aged 1 month to 18 years who were admitted to the children's university hospital of Leipzig with the clinical diagnosis of a first convulsive or non-convulsive afebrile seizure between 1999 and August 2005 were investigated. All children who had obtained a complete ophthalmological examination within 72 h after the seizure were included in the observational study. A total of 310 children were analysed in the study. Two hundred thirty patients had a tonic–clonic afebrile seizure, the others focal, complex-partial seizures or absences. Two hundred seven out of 310 children showed no ophthalmological pathologies. Eighty-three children had refraction anomalies or strabism, 18 children had optic atrophy, three had congenital eye muscle paresis, and three had malformations. A 16-year-old girl had a homonymous quadrantanopia due to an occipital glioglioma that caused the seizure. An 11-year-old girl had a retinal haemorrhage without any brain lesions after a fall caused by a first tonic–clonic seizure. None of the ophthalmological findings influenced directly the immediate clinical course of diagnosis and treatment of the seizure. Our data suggest that routine ophthalmological examination in all children does not have additional benefit in the first seizure diagnosis management.

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Correspondence to Matthias K. Bernhard.

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Bernhard, M.K., Gläser, A., Ulrich, K. et al. Is there a need for ophthalmological examinations after a first seizure in paediatric patients?. Eur J Pediatr 169, 31 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-009-0966-4

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  • Convulsions
  • Retinal haemorrhage
  • Brain tumour
  • Ophthalmological examination
  • First seizure management