Pitfalls in the diagnosis of Jeavons syndrome: a study of 32 cases and review of the literature

Epileptic Disord. 2020 Jun 1;22(3):281-290. doi: 10.1684/epd.2020.1162.


Jeavons syndrome (JS) is mainly characterized by eyelid myoclonia with or without absences. It is thought to be underdiagnosed rather than have a rare prevalence. We aimed to investigate the electroclinical features of JS to determine possible factors influencing the diagnosis. We retrospectively identified the medical records of 32 cases (0.55%) from 5,796 patients with epilepsy. The inclusion criteria were: (1) eyelid myoclonia with or without absences; (2) generalized paroxysmal activity on EEG; and (3) discharges triggered by eyelid closure and/or intermittent photic stimulation. Eighteen (56.2%) of the patients were female. The mean age at seizure onset was 8.7±5.3 years and the mean age at admission to hospital was 17.8±10.7 years. A family history of epilepsy was present in 15 (46.8%) patients. Eyelid myoclonias were noticed in six (18.7%) patients by themselves. Based on the analysis of video-EEG recordings, 26 (81.2%) patients were sensitive to eye closure, 22 (68.7%) had photoparoxysmal responses, and 16 (50%) presented with absence seizures. Ten (31.2%) patients had focal epileptic discharges. Eight (25%) patients were on monotherapy. Seven (21.8%) patients achieved seizure freedom. Three patients underwent ketogenic diet therapy, which was effective in two patients. A vagus nerve stimulator was implanted into three patients, one of whom reported seizure reduction. Eyelid myoclonias are the main seizure type of JS but are usually overlooked. The time interval between seizure onset and clinical diagnosis suggests that this syndrome continues to be under-recognized. The genetic heterogeneity and phenotypic variability are likely to be more extensive than currently recognized, making the diagnosis more phalangine. [Published with video sequence].

Keywords: Jeavons syndrome; absences; eyelid myoclonia; genetic generalized epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Absence / etiology
  • Epilepsy, Absence / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myoclonus / physiopathology*
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syndrome
  • Young Adult