The diagnostic utility of hypophosphatemia for differentiating generalized tonic-clonic seizures from syncope in dogs: A case control study

E. Kelmer*, D. G. Ohad, M. H. Shamir, O. Chai, S. Lavie, G. A. Sutton, I. Aroch, S. Klainbart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Transient hypophosphatemia is often detected in humans following generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS), and serum phosphorus concentration (sPi) serves as a marker to differentiate GTCS from syncope. The objective of this retrospective study was to assess the usefulness of hypophosphatemia as a diagnostic marker for GTCS in dogs. Eighty-seven and 26 client-owned dogs with GTCS or syncope, respectively, were enrolled. Dogs were included if the episode occurred ≤ 3 h from presentation, and if sPi and serum creatinine (sCr) were measured. Dogs were excluded if aged < 1 year or if sCr exceeded 176.8 μmol/L. There were no group differences in sCr. Hypophosphatemia (sPi ≤ 0.97 mmol/L) occurred in 28 dogs (32%) in the seizure group, and in no dogs in the syncope group. Median sPi was significantly (P < 0.001) lower in the seizure group (1 mmol/L, [range, 0.31–2.87 mmol/L]) compared to the syncope group (1.35 mmol/L [range, 0.97–2.71 mmol/L]). Furthermore, in dogs presented while seizing (n = 24/87; 28%) median sPi was significantly lower compared to those that were not (0.9 mmol/L [range, 0.3–1.74 mmol/L] vs. 1 mmol/L [range, 0.33–2.18 mmol/L], P = 0.050). ROC analysis of sPi as a marker of GTCS yielded an AUC of 0.757 (95% confidence interval 0.667–0.847), with an optimum cutoff point of 0.97 mmol/L, corresponding to specificity and sensitivity levels of 100% and 44%, respectively. In conclusion, sPi may, in certain cases, serve as an additional diagnostic tool to differentiate GTCS from syncope in dogs. Hypophosphatemia, especially with sPi < 0.97 mmol/L, may be useful in clinical practice to rule in GTCS.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number105914
JournalVeterinary Journal
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge Ms. Nitzan Levi for technical assistance. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. An abstract will be presented at the 2022 European Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Conference, Ghent, Belgium.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Creatine-kinase
  • Epilepsy
  • Phosphate
  • Status-epilepticus
  • Transient loss of consciousness


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