The Evolution of Subclinical Seizures in Children With Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

J Child Neurol. 2019 Oct;34(12):770-777. doi: 10.1177/0883073819860640. Epub 2019 Jul 10.


Background: Subclinical seizures are electrographic seizures that present without subjective or objective clinical symptoms. In tuberous sclerosis complex, it is not known whether subclinical seizures occur alone, forewarn, or coexist with clinical seizures. To address this knowledge gap, we studied the prevalence and evolution of subclinical seizures in tuberous sclerosis complex.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed electroencephalography (EEG) data from our tuberous sclerosis complex clinic with subclinical seizures and clinical seizures in a blinded fashion. Based on EEG location and ictal pattern, subclinical seizures were classified as having a clinical counterpart from the same epileptogenic region (match) or not (no match).

Results: Of 208 children with tuberous sclerosis complex, 138 had epilepsy and available EEG data. Subclinical seizures were detected in 26 of 138 (19%) children. Twenty-four children had both subclinical seizures and clinical seizures captured on EEG. In 13 of 24, subclinical seizures were detected as a novel, not previously recorded seizure type. In these children, subclinical seizures preceded matching clinical seizures in 4 (31%) within a median time of 4.5 months (range 2-14), whereas 9 (69%) never had any matching clinical seizure. In 11 of 24 children, subclinical seizures were not novel and could be matched to a previously recorded clinical seizure. Matching seizure types were focal (n = 10, 67%), tonic (n = 2), epileptic spasms (n = 2), and status epilepticus (n = 1).

Conclusions: Subclinical seizures occur in one-fifth of children with tuberous sclerosis complex and epilepsy, and match with clinical seizures in a small majority. In a third of patients presenting with a novel subclinical seizure, matching clinical seizures follow.

Keywords: children; epilepsy; subclinical seizures; tuberous sclerosis complex.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Progression
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsies, Partial / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Tuberous Sclerosis / physiopathology*