Obstructive and central sleep apnoea in a patient with medically intractable epilepsy

BMJ Case Rep. 2022 Sep 28;15(9):e245564. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2021-245564.


A woman in her 30s with medically intractable epilepsy and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome on multiple antiseizure medications and with a deep brain stimulator presented to the epilepsy monitoring unit with increased seizure frequency. She was noted to have periods of apparent apnoea time linked to bursts of epileptiform activity on continuous video EEG monitoring. Once the clinical seizures were controlled, she was discharged to the sleep laboratory. She was noted to have obstructive and central sleep apnoea, which improved with the use of positive airway pressure. Central sleep apnoeas were time linked to electrographic seizures. Ictal central apnoea can easily be overlooked and is likely more common than currently recognised in patients with epilepsy. Ictal central apnoea may be a biomarker for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

Keywords: epilepsy and seizures; neurology; sleep disorders (neurology).

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Apnea
  • Death, Sudden
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy* / complications
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy* / therapy
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy* / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Seizures
  • Sleep Apnea, Central* / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Central* / diagnosis