Complete remission in nonsyndromic childhood-onset epilepsy

Berg, A. T.; Testa, F. M.; Levy, S. R.

Ann Neurol. 2011 Jun 29; 70(4):566-73


OBJECTIVE: Determine the probability of attaining complete remission in children with nonsyndromic epilepsy (NSE) over the course of >/=10 years from initial diagnosis; identify early predictors of complete remission; and assess the risk of relapse after achieving complete remission. METHODS: In a prospective community-based cohort, complete remission was defined as 5 years seizure-free and medication-free. Any subsequent seizure for any reason was a relapse. Univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted with standard methods including the Kaplan-Meier approach. Proportional hazards modeling was used for multivariable analysis. RESULTS: Of 613 cohort members, 347 had NSEs, of whom 294 (85%) were followed >/=10 years (maximum = 17.9). A total of 170 in 294 (58%) achieved complete remission, 10 of whom (6%) relapsed. Seizure outcome at 2 years (remission, pharmacoresistant, unclear) (p < 0.0001) and underlying cause (p < 0.0001) distinguished groups with complete remission ranging from ~20% to ~75%. Older age at onset was independently associated with a poorer chance of complete remission. Relapses occurred up to 7.5 years after attaining complete remission and were marginally associated with underlying cause (p = 0.06). INTERPRETATION: Complete remission occurs in over one-half of young people with NSE and generally persists. Meaningful but imperfect predication is possible based on underlying cause and early seizure control. The finding of age effects may play a role in meaningful identification of phenotypes, which could become fruitful targets for genetic and imaging investigations in these otherwise poorly differentiated epilepsies.

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