Clinical spectrum and medical treatment of children with electrical status epilepticus in sleep (ESES)

Epilepsia. 2009 Jun;50(6):1517-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01891.x. Epub 2008 Nov 19.


Purposes: To describe the clinical spectrum and to evaluate the efficacy of different therapeutic agents in children with electrical status epilepticus in sleep (ESES).

Methods: Clinical data of all patients with ESES (not including patients with Landau-Kleffner syndrome) in four pediatric neurology outpatient clinics were analyzed. Thirty patients with ESES had been treated between 1994 and 2007.

Results: Eleven (37%) children had benign partial epilepsies of childhood, five (17%) had cerebral palsy, five (17%) had hydrocephalus, one (3%) had schizencephaly, one (3%) had prenatal parenchymal bleeding, and the etiology was unclear in seven (23%). The duration of ESES ranged between 2 and 60 months. The antiepileptic drugs that were found to be efficacious were: levetiracetam (41%), clobazam (31%), and sulthiame (17%). Valproic acid, lamotrigine, topiramate, and ethosuximide showed no efficacy. Steroids were efficacious in 65%; immunoglobulins were efficacious in 33%. High-dose diazepam was efficacious in 37%, but all the children had temporary response. Seventeen patients (57%) had cognitive deterioration, whereas the rest presented with regression in attention, speech, communication, and behavior. Fourteen children had permanent cognitive deficit. There was a significant correlation (p = 0.029) between the duration of ESES and residual intellectual deficit at follow-up.

Conclusions: ESES reflects an evolution of benign partial epilepsy of childhood in more than one-third of the patients, whereas there is an underlying structural brain anomaly in another one-third. The most efficacious antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are levetiracetam and clobazam. The duration of ESES correlated significantly with residual intellectual deficit at follow-up.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anticonvulsants / classification
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep / drug effects
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*
  • Status Epilepticus / physiopathology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticonvulsants