Objectives: To stress that different atypical evolutions occur in the course of disease in some patients with the so called benign partial epilepsies of childhood (BPEC). To promote interest in finding clinical and/or electroencephalographic clues to recognize which patients might be prone to present these risks.
Methods: Follow up of 26 pediatric patients who started with typical clinical and EEG features of benign childhood epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes (BCECTS) but presented reversible or persistent serious epileptic events including status epilepticus and language, cognitive or behavioral impairments. Repeated neurological examinations, EEG records and neuropsychological evaluations were done in the course of up to 14 years. Brain imaging studies (CAT and/or MRI) were obtained in all patients.
Results: Four groups of patients were recognized: 11 children with atypical benign partial epilepsy of childhood (ABPEC) followed during 4 to 13 years. All have finally recovered and attend normal schools, although five have learning difficulties. Three patients met diagnostic criteria for Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS). Two of them recovered from aphasia and in one, some language difficulties persist. Seven children showed status epilepticus of BCECTS but all of them are now normal after 3 to 14 years of follow-up. Five children showed mixed features of the three groups mentioned above and three of them fulfilled the criteria for diagnosis of the syndrome of continuous spike-wave during slow sleep (CSWS).
Conclusions: A small proportion of cases starting with BCECTS evolve into either ABPEC, LKS, status of BCECTS or the syndrome of CSWS. Then, BCECTS is not always benign. Clinical and EEG markers should be sought to predict these atypical evolutions.