Photoplethysmographic evaluation of generalized tonic‐clonic seizures

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Abstract

Objective

Photoplethysmography (PPG) is an optical technique measuring variations of blood perfusion in peripheral tissues. We evaluated alterations in PPG signals in relationship to the occurrence of generalized tonic‐clonic seizures (GTCSs) in patients with epilepsy to evaluate the feasibility of seizure detection.

Methods

During electroencephalographic (EEG) long‐term monitoring, patients wore portable wristband sensor(s) on their wrists or ankles recording PPG signals. We analyzed PPG signals during three time periods, which were defined with respect to seizures detected on EEG: (1) baseline (>30 minutes prior to seizure), (2) preseizure period, and (3) postseizure period. Furthermore, we selected five random control segments during seizure‐free periods. PPG features, including frequency, amplitude, duration, slope, smoothness, and area under the curve, were automatically calculated. We used a linear mixed‐effect model to evaluate changes in PPG features between different time periods in an attempt to identify signal changes that detect seizures.

Results

We prospectively enrolled 174 patients from the epilepsy monitoring unit at Boston Children’s Hospital. Twenty‐five GTCSs were recorded from 13 patients. Data from the first recorded GTCS of each patient were included in the analysis. We observed an increase in PPG frequency during pre‐ and postseizure periods that was higher than the changes during seizure‐free periods (frequency increase: preseizure = 0.22 Hz, postseizure = 0.58 Hz vs changes during seizure‐free period = 0.05 Hz). The PPG slope decreased significantly by 56.71 nW/s during preseizure periods compared to seizure‐free periods. Additionally, the smoothness increased significantly by 0.22 nW/s during the postseizure period compared to seizure‐free periods.

Significance

Monitoring of PPG signals may assist in the detection of GTCSs in patients with epilepsy. PPG may serve as a promising biomarker for future seizure detection systems and may contribute to future seizure prediction systems.

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