John Libbey Eurotext

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and nocturnal epilepsy with tonic seizures Volume 11, numéro 4, December 2009

Sleep and Respiratory Disorders Centre, Department of Clinical Physiology, Medical University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland

Some ambiguous symptoms may delay or lead to an erroneous diagnosis. We present a case of pure sleep, generalized tonic seizures in a patient with concomitant sleep apnea syndrome. The prolonged apneic periods with tonic muscle contracture lasting minutes and occurring exclusively at night with ensuing confusional state posed diagnostic difficulties because of the negative EEG at the beginning of the workup and the absence of other epilepsy symptoms (i.e. clonic phase, tongue biting, enuresis, seizures while awake). Numerous apneas on polysomnography led to the diagnosis of sleep apnea syndrome. No effect of continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) treatment on frequency of the nocturnal tonic epileptic fits and the repetitive character of the clinical presentation combined with the typical pathologic changes on subsequent EEGs permitted to suggest the epileptic nature of the paroxysmal events. Episodes stopped following administration of clonazepam. However, spontaneous, coincidental remission of seizures cannot be excluded since the patient remained seizure free even after discontinuation of the drug.