Is Partial Epilepsy Progressive? Ten-Year Follow-Up of EEG and Neuropsychological Changes in Adults with Partial Seizures

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This study was undertaken to determine what changes, if any, occur in the electroencephalogram (EEG) and in neuropsychological test findings of adults with medically intractable complex partial epilepsy over a 10-year period.


We studied 35 adults, with a mean age of 32 years (range, 16-59 years) at time of initial testing. We compared the distribution of epileptiform patterns documented on the initial pair of waking and sleeping EEGs to those observed on another pair obtained 10 years later. During this same 10-year period, we also examined changes in the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and on the tests from the Neuropsychological Battery for Epilepsy.


The EEGs of 28 (80%) of patients at the tenth year were identical to those seen initially. Five (14%) of patients demonstrated EEGs after 10 years with either no discharges or only unilateral discharges, where bilateral discharges were seen a decade earlier. Only two (6%) of patients had EEGs at the tenth year that showed bilateral discharges where only unilateral discharges were seen originally. We found no general change in intelligence or neuropsychological functioning after 10 years, although a few subtle losses were noted on several neuropsychological measures.


For most adults with medically intractable complex partial epilepsy, the EEG and neuropsychological test scores remain reasonably stable over a decade.

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