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Journal of Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology

Print version ISSN 1676-2649


GUILHOTO, Laura M. F. Ferreira et al. Benign focal seizures of adolescence and neuropsychological findings in patients from community. J. epilepsy clin. neurophysiol. [online]. 2009, vol.15, n.4, pp.184-191. ISSN 1676-2649.

RATIONALE: Benign focal seizures of adolescence (BFSA) described by Loiseau et al in 1972, is considered a rare entity, but maybe underdiagnosed. Although mild neuropsychological deficits have been reported in patients with benign epilepsies of childhood, these evaluations have not so far been described in BFSA. The aim of this study is to evaluate neuropsychological functions in BFSA with new onset seizures (<12 months). METHODS: Eight patients with BFSA (according to Loiseau et al, 1972, focal or secondarily tonic clonic generalized seizures between the ages of 10-18 yrs., normal neurologic examination, normal EEG or with mild focal abnormalities) initiated in the last 12 months were studied between July 2008 to May 2009. They were referred from the Pediatric Emergency Section of the Hospital Universitário of the University of Sao Paulo, a secondary care regionalized facility located in a district of middle-low income in Sao Paulo city, Brazil. The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Institution. All patients performed neurological, EEG, brain CT and neuropsychological evaluation which consisted of Raven's Special Progressive Matrices - General and Special Scale (according to different ages), Wechsler Children Intelligence Scale-WISC III with ACID Profile, Trail Making Test A/B, Stroop Test, Bender Visuo-Motor Test, Rey Complex Figure, Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test-RAVLT, Boston Naming Test, Fluency Verbal for phonological and also conceptual patterns - FAS/Animals and Hooper Visual Organization Test. For academic achievement, we used a Brazilian test for named "Teste do Desempenho Escolar", which evaluates abilities to read, write and calculate according to school grade. RESULTS: There were 2 boys and 6 girls, with ages ranging from 10 yrs. 9 m to 14 yrs. 3 m. Most (7/8) of the patients presented one to two seizures and only three of them received antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Six had mild EEG focal abnormalities and all had normal brain CT. All were literate, attended regular public schools and scored in a median range for IQ, and seven showed discrete higher scores for the verbal subtests. There were low scores for attention in different modalities in six patients, mainly in alternated attention as well as inhibitory subtests (Stroop test and Trail Making Test part B). Four of the latter cases who showed impairment both in alternated and inhibitory attention were not taking AEDs. Visual memory was impaired in five patients (Rey Complex Figure). Executive functions analysis showed deficits in working memory in five, mostly observed in Digits Indirect Order and Arithmetic tests (WISC III). Reading and writing skills were below the expected average for school grade in six patients according to the achievement scholar performance test utilized. One patient of this series who had the best scores in all tests was taking phenobarbital. CONCLUSIONS: Neuropsychological imbalance between normal IQ and mild dysfunctions such as in attention domain and in some executive abilities like working memory and planning, as well as difficulties in visual memory and in reading and writing, were described in this group of patients with BFSA from community. This may reflect mild higher level neurological dysfunctions in adolescence idiopathic focal seizures probably caused by an underlying dysmaturative epileptogenic process. Although academic problems often have multiple causes, a specific educational approach may be necessary in these adolescents, in order to improve their scholastic achievements, helping in this way, to decrease the stigma associated to epileptic seizures in the community.

Keywords : Adolescence; focal seizures; epilepsy; benign; neuropsychology; community.

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