The CT scans of 74 patients presenting with late-onset epilepsy not due to cerebral tumour were compared with those of an age and sex-matched control group for evidence of cerebral vascular disease. Changes in the scan indicative of cerebral atrophy (enlarged ventricles and cortical sulci) were seen in similar numbers in both patients and controls. However, the scans revealed a highly significant excess of ischaemic lesions in the epileptic patients, in the form of discrete areas of infarction and low attenuation of the periventricular white matter. These changes, which were only seen in two of the controls, were present in 13 of the epileptic patients. The median age at the onset of epilepsy in the 13 patients with ischaemic lesions was 62 years, and they showed an increased incidence of systemic vascular disease and of abnormal neurological signs. In six of the 13 cases, however, clinical examination was normal and CT scanning provided the only evidence of underlying vascular disease.
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