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Benign Epilepsies

In medicine the term benign refers to: ‘not harmful in effect’; for example, a benign condition. When the term is used in epilepsy it is referring to a condition that resolves prior to adulthood.

Rolandic Epilepsy

Perhaps the epilepsy with the most name changes over time…

Childhood Epilepsy with Centrotemporal spikes (CECS); also, known as Benign Epilepsy with Centrotemporal Spikes (BECTS); sometimes seen listed as (BCECTS) Benign Childhood Epilepsy with Centrotemporal Spikes and previously known as Benign Rolandic Epilepsy all refer to this self limiting epilepsy that resolves in adulthood.

The EEG for these patients often shows a normal background with high amplitude centrotemporal sharp waves, activated with drowsiness and sleep.

Childhood Epilepsy with Centrotemporal Spikes is one of the most common childhood seizure disorders. Seizures typically begin when children are between the age of 2 to 13 years.

Seizures associated with benign Rolandic epilepsy often include twitching or jerking. They may also include numbness or a tingling sensation in the face or tongue and can be accompanied by slurred speech. They typically are associated with sleep.

The benign nature of the seizures is because they often stop occurring in the late teen years with the Rolandic label coming from the Rolandic area of the brain (situated around the central sulcus and the Rolandic fissure) - the centrotemporal area of the brain.

Benign Occipital Epilepsy

There are two types for this benign epilepsy:

Panayiotopoulos Syndrome and Gastuat-type Syndrome. The distinguishing characteristic for the two types depends on the age of onset.

Panayiotopoulos syndrome typically begins around the age of 3-6years, while Gastaut-type syndrome can start at any age throughout childhood but tends to peak around the age of 8 or 9 years.

Seizures associated with these conditions originate in the occipital lobe of the brain. Symptoms often include visual hallucinations, a loss of vision, nausea, headaches, and vomiting. Because it involves visual changes and headaches, this form of epilepsy can be mistaken for migraines. Patients may also experience jerking.

An occipital spike is often seen in the interictal EEG for these patients.

Benign Familial Neonatal Seizures

Benign Familial Neonatal Seizures (BFNS) is a condition associated with recurrent seizures in newborns. The seizures begin around the 3rd day of life with tonic-clonic activity that can be both focal or generalized in nature.

Infants with BFNS usually have normal EEG readings.

In most infants, benign familial neonatal seizures resolve by the time they are 4 months old. However, the term benign can often be a little misleading.

Helpful resource sites used for this post include:

National Institute of Health

NYU Health

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