Absence seizure provocation during routine EEG: Does position of the child during hyperventilation affect the diagnostic yield?

Tal Rozenblat, Dror Kraus, Muhammad Mahajnah, Hadassah Goldberg-Stern, Nathan Watemberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: When performed correctly, hyperventilation (HV) for three minutes provokes absence seizures in virtually all children, a finding suggestive of a diagnosis of childhood absence epilepsy (CAE). Interestingly, some children experience absence seizures while performing HV in the office yet do not experience absences during HV on subsequent routine EEG. In most instances, HV during routine EEG is performed in the supine position, while in the office HV is done with the child sitting-up. Therefore, we hypothesized that the position in which HV is performed may influence its yield in provoking absence seizures. Methods: We conducted a randomized multi-center controlled trial among children (4-10 years old) with suspected CAE. During a routine EEG, children were asked to perform HV twice, in the supine and sitting positions. Results: Twenty children (four males) diagnosed with CAE were included in the analysis. Seventeen of the 20 patients experienced absence seizures while sitting and 13 experienced seizures during supine HV (p = 0.031). All patients that had absence seizures during supine HV also had seizures during sitting HV. Among patients with absences in both positions, seizure duration was significantly shorter during sitting HV (mean 8.69 seconds) than during supine HV (mean 12 seconds) (p = 0.042). An opposite tendency was seen in the younger age group (4-7 years), with shorter seizures in the supine HV group (5.6 seconds supine, 7.57 seconds sitting, p = 0.019). Conclusions: HV in the sitting position may increase the yield of provoking absence seizures during routine EEGs, thereby improving its sensitivity in the diagnosis of CAE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-89
Number of pages4
StatePublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 British Epilepsy Association


  • Absence seizures
  • Childhood Absence Epilepsy
  • EEG
  • Epilepsy
  • Hyperventilation
  • Position


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