PURPOSE - We report clinical and electrographic features of generalized onset seizures with focal evolution (GOFE) and present arguments for the inclusion of this seizure type in the seizure classification.
METHODS - The adult and pediatric Epilepsy Monitoring Unit databases at Vanderbilt Medical Center and Children's Hospital were screened to identify generalized onset seizures with focal evolution. We reviewed medical records for epilepsy characteristics, epilepsy risk factors, MRI abnormalities, neurologic examination, antiepileptic medications before and after diagnosis, and response to medications. We also reviewed ictal and interictal EEG tracings, as well as video-recorded semiology.
RESULTS - Ten patients were identified, 7 males and 3 females. All of the patients developed generalized epilepsy in childhood or adolescence (ages 3-15years). Generalized onset seizures with focal evolution developed years after onset in 9 patients, with a semiology concerning for focal seizures or nonepileptic events. Ictal discharges had a generalized onset on EEG, described as either generalized spike-and-wave and/or polyspike-and-wave discharges, or generalized fast activity. This electrographic activity then evolved to focal rhythmic activity most commonly localized to one temporal or frontal region; five patients had multiple seizures evolving to focal activity in different regions of both hemispheres. The predominant interictal epileptiform activity included generalized spike-and-wave and/or polyspike-and-wave discharges in all patients. Taking into consideration all clinical and EEG data, six patients were classified with genetic (idiopathic) generalized epilepsy, and four were classified with structural/metabolic (symptomatic) generalized epilepsy. All of the patients had modifications to their medications following discharge, with three becoming seizure-free and five responding with >50% reduction in seizure frequency.
CONCLUSION - Generalized onset seizures may occasionally have focal evolution with semiology suggestive of focal seizures, leading to a misdiagnosis of focal onset. This unique seizure type may occur with genetic as well as structural/metabolic forms of epilepsy. The identification of this seizure type may help clinicians choose appropriate medications, avoiding narrow spectrum agents known to aggravate generalized onset seizures.
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