New Blood Test May Detect Epileptic Seizures
Hormone Test May Help Diagnose Epilepsy
WebMD News Archive
An epilepsy blood test measures the amount of the hormone prolactin in the blood. It helps determine whether a
seizure was caused by epilepsy or another disorder.
Researchers reviewed all of the published studies on the prolactin blood
test and found it may be useful in certain situations in determining whether an
epileptic seizure occurred in adults and older children with unexplained
The test, which must be used within 10 to 20 minutes after a seizure,
measures levels of the hormone prolactin in the blood. Prolactin is produced by
the pituitary gland, but an area of the brain called the hypothalamus controls
Researchers say epileptic seizures are thought to affect the hypothalamus
and may alter the release of prolactin, causing levels of the hormone to
New Test for Epileptic Seizures
In the study, which appears in the journal Neurology, researchers
evaluated eight studies on the prolactin blood test.
The results showed that the test could accurately identify seizures in
adults and older children and distinguish them from nonseizure type episodes.
Levels of prolactin in the blood increase after seizures but not during
Researchers found the test was useful at differentiating epileptic seizures
from those caused by mental problems. But they say the test cannot distinguish
epileptic seizures from those caused by a fainting episode because
prolactin levels also rise after these types of seizures.
Therefore, the guidelines say the test may be appropriate as a secondary
test, especially in cases when EEG
(electroencephalography, a technology used to analyze seizures) is not
More research is also needed to determine whether the prolactin blood test
is suitable for young children.