Management of Landau-Kleffner syndrome

Paediatr Drugs. 2005;7(6):377-89. doi: 10.2165/00148581-200507060-00006.


Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS) is an acquired epileptic aphasia disorder in which children, usually 3-8 years of age who have developed age-appropriate speech, experience language regression with verbal auditory agnosia, abnormal epileptiform activity, behavioral disturbances, and sometimes overt seizures. There are no controlled clinical trials investigating the therapeutic options for LKS. Only open-label data are available. Early diagnosis and initiation of prompt medical treatment appear to be important to achieving better long-term prognosis.Several antiepileptic drugs have been reported to be beneficial in treating this syndrome. These include valproic acid (valproate sodium), diazepam, ethosuximide, clobazam, and clonazepam. Reports on the efficacy of lamotrigine, sultiame, felbamate, nicardipine, vigabatrin, levetiracetam, vagal nerve stimulation, and a ketogenic diet are few and more experience is needed. Carbamazepine and possibly phenobarbital and phenytoin have been reported to occasionally exacerbate the syndrome. As initial therapy, valproic acid or diazepam is often empirically chosen. Subsequently, other antiepileptic drugs, corticosteroids, or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy are often used. Corticosteroid therapy should probably not be delayed more than 1-2 months after the initial diagnosis. Various corticosteroid regimens including oral prednisone and, recently, high doses of intravenous pulse corticosteroids, as well as corticotropin (adrenocorticotropic hormone) have been reported to be effective in LKS. Oral corticosteroids are used more often and usually need to be maintained for a long period of time to prevent relapses. The use of IVIG has been associated with an initial dramatic response in only a few patients. In our experience, a long-term worthwhile improvement has been noted in only 2 of 11 patients. These two patients had an immediate response to IVIG initially and after relapses before eventually achieving a long-term sustained remission. Surgical treatment by multiple subpial transection, which is reserved for patients who have not responded to multiple medical therapies, has been followed in selected cases by a marked improvement in language skills and behavior. However, a widely accepted consensus about suitable candidates for this surgery and about its efficacy is still lacking. Speech therapy, including sign language, and a number of classroom and behavioral interventions are helpful in managing LKS, and should be used in all patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use*
  • Landau-Kleffner Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Landau-Kleffner Syndrome / therapy
  • Psychosurgery
  • Speech Therapy


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone