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Seizure and Interictal Electroencephalographic (EEG) Changes with Cannabinoid Concentrate Use

Madeline D. Kahan, Andrew Breithaupt, Kendall Nash, Adam L. Numis

(Department of Neurology, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2021; 22:e931360

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.931360


BACKGROUND: The electroencephalographic (EEG) findings associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) use, particularly in concentrated form, are not well-described, despite the current widespread availability of these products. There is a lack of prior research describing the EEG findings in adolescent cannabis users, and the effects of THC on the seizure threshold have been variably reported.
CASE REPORT: A 17-year-old girl with no prior history of seizures or known seizure risk factors presented to an Emergency Department with acutely abnormal behavior in the setting of daily vaping of highly concentrated THC marijuana (“wax”). On admission, she had a witnessed generalized tonic-clonic seizure. Urine toxicology was positive for THC, and an extensive evaluation for other etiologies of her encephalopathy was unrevealing. Extended EEG on admission showed mild diffuse background slowing with occasional bifronto-centrally predominant sharp and spike wave discharges. Seven days later, without interim antiseizure medications, a repeat extended EEG showed resolution of the previously seen interictal findings.
CONCLUSIONS: The clinical and EEG findings were temporally associated with the patient’s use of concentrated THC and may represent a constellation of symptoms of a THC wax toxidrome. In this case, THC was associated with lowering the seizure threshold and triggering a provoked seizure in an adolescent with no prior evidence of seizure tendency. This case also suggests the possibility of THC concentrate itself generating epileptiform discharges, as has previously been described with synthetic cannabinoid use.

Keywords: Cannabis, Electroencephalography, marijuana use, Seizures

This paper has been published under Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) allowing to download articles and share them with others as long as they credit the authors and the publisher, but without permission to change them in any way or use them commercially.
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