Individualizing the definition of seizure clusters based on temporal clustering analysis

Sharon Chiang, Sheryl R. Haut, Victor Ferastraoaru, Vikram R. Rao, Maxime O. Baud, William H. Theodore, Robert Moss, Daniel M. Goldenholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: Seizure clusters are often encountered in people with poorly controlled epilepsy. Detection of seizure clusters is currently based on simple clinical rules, such as two seizures separated by four or fewer hours or multiple seizures in 24 h. Current definitions fail to distinguish between statistically significant clusters and those that may result from natural variation in the person's seizures. Ability to systematically define when a seizure cluster is significant for the individual carries major implications for treatment. However, there is no uniform consensus on how to define seizure clusters. This study proposes a principled statistical approach to defining seizure clusters that addresses these issues. Methods: A total of 533,968 clinical seizures from 1,748 people with epilepsy in the Seizure Tracker™ seizure diary database were used for algorithm development. We propose an algorithm for automated individualized seizure cluster identification combining cumulative sum change-point analysis with bootstrapping and aberration detection, which provides a new approach to personalized seizure cluster identification at user-specified levels of clinical significance. We develop a standalone user interface to make the proposed algorithm accessible for real-time seizure cluster identification (ClusterCalc™). Clinical impact of systematizing cluster identification is demonstrated by comparing empirically-defined clusters to those identified by routine seizure cluster definitions. We also demonstrate use of the Hurst exponent as a standardized measure of seizure clustering for comparison of seizure clustering burden within or across patients. Results: Seizure clustering was present in 26.7 % (95 % CI, 24.5–28.7 %) of people with epilepsy. Empirical tables were provided for standardizing inter- and intra-patient comparisons of seizure cluster tendency. Using the proposed algorithm, we found that 37.7–59.4 % of seizures identified as clusters based on routine definitions had high probability of occurring by chance. Several clusters identified by the algorithm were missed by conventional definitions. The utility of the ClusterCalc algorithm for individualized seizure cluster detection is demonstrated. Significance: This study proposes a principled statistical approach to individualized seizure cluster identification and demonstrates potential for real-time clinical usage through ClusterCalc. Using this approach accounts for individual variations in baseline seizure frequency and evaluates statistical significance. This new definition has the potential to improve individualized epilepsy treatment by systematizing identification of unrecognized seizure clusters and preventing unnecessary intervention for random events previously considered clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106330
JournalEpilepsy Research
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Change-point analysis
  • Electronic seizure diaries
  • Hurst statistics
  • Seizure clustering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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