John Libbey Eurotext

Epileptic Disorders

The Educational Journal of the

Idiopathic generalised epilepsy with phantom absences and absence status in a child Volume 3, issue 2, June 2001


  • Idiopathic geenralised epilepsy with phantom absences and absence status in a child


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Department of Clinical Neurophysiology and Epilepsies, St. Thomas Hospital, London SE1 7EH, UK.
  • Key words: phantom absences, absence status, EEG 3-4 Hz generalised discharges, children, idiopathic generalised epilepsy.
  • Page(s) : 63-6
  • Published in: 2001

A syndrome of idiopathic generalised epilepsy with phantom absences of undetermined onset has been recently described. This syndrome clinically becomes apparent in adulthood with generalised tonic clonic seizures and frequently absence status epilepticus. We report an 11 year-old normal girl with frequent episodes of absence status and no other overt clinical manifestations. However, appropriate video-EEG recordings documented that she had frequent absence seizures that were so mild as to escape recognition by her and the parents. These consisted of mild impairment of cognition and eyelid fluttering during brief generalised discharges of spike/multiple spike and slow waves. No further seizures occurred and the EEG normalised after appropriate drug treatment. Thus, it appears that this syndrome of phantom absences and absence status may start much earlier, in late childhood. Appropriate video-EEG documentation is needed for the recognition of these patients that may be more common than it appears from the few published cases (with Video).