Electroclinical features and long-term therapeutic response in patients with typical absence seizures

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OBJECTIVE: To characterize in detail the electroclinical features of typical absence seizures and elucidate whether EEG or semiology features, alone or in combination, can predict long-term therapeutic outcome. METHODS: We analysed video-EEG recordings from 213 typical absence seizures from 61 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy. We extracted semiological features, in addition to hallmark manifestations (motor/behavioural arrest, non-responsiveness), their location, timing and frequency. We evaluated the duration and frequency of generalized spike-wave discharges and the presence of polyspikes. We used a supervised machine-learning approach (random forest) to search for classifier features for long-term therapeutic outcome (>one year). RESULTS: Besides the hallmark manifestations, additional semiological features were identified in 87% of patients (75% of seizures). The most common additional semiological features were automatisms and eye blinking (observed in 45% and 41.5% of seizures, respectively). Automatisms were associated with longer seizure duration, and oral automatisms occurred earlier compared to limb automatisms (4.03 vs. 6.19 seconds; p=0.005). The mean duration of the ictal spike-wave discharges was nine seconds, and the median frequency was 3 Hz. Polyspikes occurred in 46 seizures (21.6%), in 19 patients (31%). Median follow-up was five years, and 73% of the patients were seizure-free at the end of the follow-up. None of the semiological features, alone or in combination, were predictors of therapeutic outcome. The only significant classifier was the presence of polyspikes, predicting a non-seizure-free outcome with an accuracy of 73% (95% CI: 70-77%), positive predictive value of 92% (95% CI: 84-98%) and negative predictive value of 60% (95% CI: 39-81%). SIGNIFICANCE: Semiological features, in addition to behavioural arrest and non-responsiveness, are common in typical absence seizures, but they do not predict long-term therapeutic outcome. The presence of polyspikes has a high positive predictive value for unfavourable therapeutic outcome, and their presence should therefore be included when reporting EEGs in patients with typical absence seizures.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEpileptic Disorders
Volume24
Issue2
Pages (from-to)315-322
Number of pages8
ISSN1294-9361
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

    Research areas

  • EEG, idiopathic generalized epilepsy, long-term therapeutic outcome, machine learning, semiology, typical absence seizure

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