Scalp EEG spikes predict impending epilepsy in TSC infants: A longitudinal observational study

Epilepsia. 2019 Dec;60(12):2428-2436. doi: 10.1111/epi.16379. Epub 2019 Nov 5.


Objective: To determine if routine electroencephalography (EEG) in seizure-naive infants with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) can predict epilepsy and subsequent neurocognitive outcomes.

Methods: Forty infants 7 months of age or younger and meeting the genetic or clinical diagnostic criteria for tuberous sclerosis were enrolled. Exclusion criteria included prior history of seizures or treatment with antiseizure medications. At each visit, seizure history and 1-hour awake and asleep video-EEG, standardized across all sites, were obtained until 2 years of age. Developmental assessments (Mullen and Vineland-II) were completed at 6, 12, and 24 months of age.

Results: Of 40 infants enrolled (mean age of 82.4 days), 32 completed the study. Two were lost to follow-up and six were treated with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) due to electrographic seizures and/or interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) on their EEG studies prior to the onset of clinical seizures. Seventeen of the 32 remaining children developed epilepsy at a mean age of 7.5 months (standard deviation [SD] = 4.4). Generalized/focal slowing, hypsarrhythmia, and generalized/focal attenuation were not predictive for the development of clinical seizures. Presence of IEDs had a 77.3% positive predictive value and absence a 70% negative predictive value for developing seizures by 2 years of age. IEDs preceded clinical seizure onset by 3.6 months (mean). Developmental testing showed significant decline, only in infants with ongoing seizures, but not infants who never developed seizures or whose seizures came under control.

Significance: IEDs identify impending epilepsy in the majority (77%) of seizure-naive infants with TSC. The use of a 1-hour awake and asleep EEG can be used as a biomarker for ongoing epileptogenesis in most, but not all, infants with TSC. Persistent seizures, but not history of interictal epileptiform activity or history of well-controlled seizures, correlated with low scores on the Vineland and Mullen tests at 2 years of age.

Keywords: biomarker; epileptiform discharges; seizure outcome; tuberous sclerosis complex.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Electroencephalography / trends*
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scalp / physiology
  • Tuberous Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberous Sclerosis / physiopathology*