Absence epilepsy - electroclinical features and current advances

Dimitrije Nikolić, Marijana Marinković, Biljana Međo, Kristina Jovanović

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the electroclinical features and pathophysiological findings, as well as the neuropsychological characteristics of absence epilepsies. Absence seizures are primary generalized, non-convulsive seizures. The classical clinical manifestations of typical absence seizures are a transient impairment of consciousness (with abrupt onset and offset) accompanied by staring, blinking and various forms of head/limb automatism. Atypical absence attacks are characterized by a milder beginning and end of the attack, more expressed changes in muscular tone, less severe disorders of consciousness, and longer duration compared to typical attacks. EEG findings in absence epilepsies have a characteristic pattern, demonstrating generalized spike and wave complexes that are typically 2.5-4 Hz. Treatment depends on the type of epilepsy, but usually includes valproic acid and ethosuximide. Because of their benign nature and lack of clinical presentation that resembles “real” epilepsy, absence attacks are often interpreted as daydreaming or simply a lack of attention, and therefore often the first signs of the disease are often not recognized.

Conclusion: A better understanding of absence epilepsies is very important in order to develop strategies that will improve these children’s quality of life.

Keywords

Absence seizures ; Electroencephalography (EEG) ; Childhood absence epilepsy ; Juvenile absence epilepsy

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