Using a blood test to measure the level of the hormone prolactin can help determine, in certain clinical settings, whether an epileptic seizure has occurred, according to a guideline developed by the American Academy of Neurology and published in the September 13, 2005 issue of Neurology. The guideline authors reviewed all of the scientific evidence available on use of the prolactin blood test to diagnose seizures and developed evidence-based recommendations.
The blood test, which must be used within 10 to 20 minutes after a seizure, can identify the types of seizures called generalized tonic-clonic seizures and complex partial seizures in both adults and older children. The level of prolactin in the blood increases after these types of seizures occur.
The release of prolactin from the pituitary gland is controlled by the area of the brain called the hypothalamus. Researchers have hypothesized that epileptic seizures may affect the hypothalamus, altering the release of prolactin.
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