Pretreatment EEG in childhood absence epilepsy: associations with attention and treatment outcome

Neurology. 2013 Jul 9;81(2):150-6. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31829a3373. Epub 2013 May 29.


Objective: In children with newly diagnosed childhood absence epilepsy (CAE), determine pretreatment EEG features and their associations with baseline neuropsychological function and short-term treatment outcome.

Methods: In a multicenter, randomized clinical trial, patients with CAE underwent a pretreatment, 1-hour video-EEG and neuropsychological testing with freedom-from-failure and seizure-freedom (SF) outcome assessed at the 16- to 20-week visit.

Results: Detailed evaluation of the pretreatment EEG was possible for 99.8% of participants (445/446). Median time to first seizure was 6.0 minutes (range 0-59 minutes), median number of seizures was 5 (range 1-60), and median seizure duration was 10.8 seconds (range 3.3-77.6 seconds). Median duration of shortest seizure per EEG was 7.5 seconds (range 3.0-77.6 seconds). Seizure frequency was not associated with baseline measures of attention, executive function, or treatment outcome. Presence of a seizure lasting ≥20 seconds was noted in 29% of subjects (129/440); these children had higher median omissions T score on the Conners Continuous Performance Test (56.3 vs 51.6, p = 0.01). Patients with a shortest seizure of longer duration were more likely to demonstrate treatment success by both freedom-from-failure (p = 0.02) and SF (p = 0.005) criteria, even after controlling for age, treatment group, and number of seizures, with good predictive value (area under the curve 78% for SF).

Conclusions: CAE is reliably and quickly confirmed by EEG. Occurrence of a seizure ≥20 seconds, but not overall seizure frequency, was associated with differential baseline measures of attention. Patients whose shortest pretreatment EEG seizure was longer in duration were more likely to achieve SF, regardless of treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Electroencephalography / instrumentation
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Epilepsy, Absence / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Absence / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Seizures / prevention & control
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticonvulsants

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