Epilepsy in Qatar: Causes, treatment, and outcome.
OBJECTIVE: Qatar is a small country on the Eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its population is a unique mixture of native citizens and immigrants. We aimed to describe the features of epilepsy in Qatar as such information is virtually lacking from the current literature. METHODS: We summarized information retrospectively collected from 468 patients with epilepsy seen through the national health system adult neurology clinic. RESULTS: Epilepsy was classified as focal in 65.5% of the cases and generalized in 23%. Common causes of epilepsy were as follows: stroke (9%), hippocampal sclerosis (7%), infections (6%), and trauma (6%). Sixty-six percent of patients were receiving a single antiepileptic drug, with levetiracetam being the most frequently prescribed drug (41% of subjects). When the patients were divided by geographical background, remote infections caused the epilepsy in 15% of Asian patients (with neurocysticercosis accounting for 10%) but only in 1% of Qatari and 3% of Middle East/North African subjects (with no reported neurocysticercosis) (p<0.001). Cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative etiologies were the most prominent in Qataris, accounting for 14% (p=0.005) and 4% (p=0.03) of cases, respectively. The choice of antiepileptic drugs varied also according to the regional background, but the seizure freedom rate did not, averaging at 54% on the last clinic visit. SIGNIFICANCE: To our knowledge, this is the first detailed information about epilepsy in Qatar. The geographical origin of patients adds to the heterogeneity of this disorder. Neurocysticercosis should be in the etiological differential diagnosis of epilepsy in patients coming from Southeast Asian countries, despite the fact that it is not endemic to Qatar. The choice of antiepileptic drugs is influenced by the availability of individual agents in the patients' native countries but had no bearing on the final seizure outcome.