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Abdominal epilepsy
ICD-9 345.5
OMIM [1]
DiseasesDB [2]
MedlinePlus [3]
eMedicine /
MeSH {{{MeshNumber}}}

Abdominal epilepsy also known as Autonomic Epilepsy is a rare condition more common in children, consisting of gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances caused by epileptiform seizure activity. While a causal relationship between seizure activity and the GI symptoms has not been proven, the GI symptoms cannot be explained by other pathophysiological mechanisms, and are seen to improve upon anticonvulsant treatment. To be diagnosed with Abdominal Epilepsy a patient must display frequent gastrointestinal disturbances along with a noted disturbance on an Electroencephalogram (EEG), as well as a significant improvement when the patient takes an anticonvulsive medication.

Abdominal epilepsy can be a rare cause of recurrent abdominal pain.[1][2][3][4][5] It has been described as a type of temporal lobe epilepsy.[6] Responsiveness to anticonvulsants can aid in the diagnosis.[7]


While reliable estimates of incidence are lacking, abdominal epilepsy is considered to be a very rare condition. Most published medical literature dealing with abdominal epilepsy is in the form of individual case reports. A 2005 review article found a total of 36 cases described in the medical literature.[3]


Trousseau is commonly credited as the first to describe the condition in 1868 in a boy with paroxysmal GI symptoms culminating in grand mal epileptic seizures.

The first account of abdominal epilepsy supported by EEG tracings came in 1944 in an article by M.T. Moore, followed by subsequent case reports from the same group.[8][9]


The most common symptom for Abdominal Epilepsy is abdominal pain followed by uncontrollable vomiting usually proceeded by lethargy.


  1. Dutta SR, Hazarika I, Chakravarty BP (March 2007). Abdominal epilepsy, an uncommon cause of recurrent abdominal pain: a brief report. Gut 56 (3): 439–41.
  2. Eschle D, Siegel AM, Wieser HG (December 2002). Epilepsy with severe abdominal pain. Mayo Clin. Proc. 77 (12): 1358–60.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Zinkin NT, Peppercorn MA (April 2005). Abdominal epilepsy. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol 19 (2): 263–74.
  4. Levendorf M (January 2000). Chronic abdominal pain and abdominal epilepsy. Am Fam Physician 61 (1): 50.
  5. Peppercorn MA, Herzog AG (October 1989). The spectrum of abdominal epilepsy in adults. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 84 (10): 1294–6.
  6. Topno N, Gopasetty MS, Kudva A, B L (December 2005). Abdominal Epilepsy and Foreign Body in the Abdomen - Dilemma in Diagnosis of Abdominal Pain. Yonsei Med. J. 46 (6): 870–3.[dead link]
  7. Singhi PD, Kaur S (April 1988). Abdominal epilepsy misdiagnosed as psychogenic pain. Postgrad Med J 64 (750): 281–2.
  8. M.T. Moore, "Paroxysmal abdominal pain: a form of focal symptomatic epilepsy", JAMA.1944 124 561-563
  9. MOORE MT (July 1950). Abdominal epilepsy versus "abdominal migraine". Ann. Intern. Med. 33 (1): 122–33.


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