Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Epilepsy and Behavior Case Reports


Volume 2

Inclusive Pages



Mistaking psychogenic nonepileptic paroxysmal episodes (PNEPEs) for epileptic seizures (ES) is potentially dangerous, and certain features should alert physicians to a possible PNEPE diagnosis. Psychogenic nonepileptic paroxysmal episodes due to factitious seizures carry particularly high risks of morbidity or mortality from nonindicated emergency treatment and, often, high costs in wasted medical treatment expenditures. We report a case of a 28-year-old man with PNEPEs that were misdiagnosed as ES. The patient had been on four antiseizure medications (ASMs) with therapeutic serum levels and had had multiple intubations in the past for uncontrolled episodes. He had no episodes for two days of continuous video-EEG monitoring. He then disconnected his EEG cables and had an episode of generalized stiffening and cyanosis, followed by jerking and profuse bleeding from the mouth. The manifestations were unusually similar to those of ES, except that he was clearly startled by spraying water on his face, while he was stiff in all extremities and unresponsive. There were indications that he had sucked blood from his central venous catheter to expel through his mouth during his PNEPEs while consciously holding his breath. Normal video-EEG monitoring; the patient's volitional and deceptive acts to fabricate the appearance of illness, despite pain and personal endangerment; and the absence of reward other than remaining in a sick role were all consistent with a diagnosis of factitious disorder.


Reproduced with permission of Elsevier. Epilepsy and Behavior Case Reports.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Peer Reviewed