Ripples on rolandic spikes: A marker of epilepsy severity

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Abstract

Objective:

Children with rolandic spikes may or may not have seizures, ranging from benign rolandic epilepsy to severe atypical rolandic epilepsy. We investigated whether ripples (80–250 Hz), superimposed on rolandic spikes in surface electroencephalography (EEG), can differentiate between different entities.

Methods:

In this cohort study we analyzed the EEG studies of children with rolandic spikes without other EEG or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities. They were divided into the following three groups: (1) rolandic spikes but no epilepsy, (2) typical rolandic epilepsy, and (3) atypical and symptomatic rolandic epilepsy. Ripples superimposed on rolandic spikes were marked in 10 minutes of EEG, and compared to the number of seizures before the EEG. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were constructed to determine the predictive value of ripples and spikes for having epilepsy (groups 2 and 3) and for differentiating benign courses (groups 1 or 2) from atypical and symptomatic epilepsy (group 3). Ripples were also marked in the time frequency spectrum of averaged rolandic spikes.

Results:

Ripples were found in 13 of 22 children. Children without epilepsy showed no ripples, except for a single child with only one ripple. The number of ripples showed a significant positive correlation with the number of seizures (ρ = 0.70, p = 0.001), whereas spikes had a borderline significant correlation (ρ = 0.43, p = 0.05). Presence of more than two ripples was a predictor for having seizures (area under the curve [AUC] 0.84), whereas spikes could not predict having seizures (AUC 0.53). More than five ripples predicted the difference between benign courses and atypical and symptomatic epilepsy (AUC 0.91, sensitivity 63%, specificity 100%). Ripples in the time frequency spectra appeared in all children and were not related to seizures.

Significance:

Absence of ripples on top of rolandic spikes predicts a relative benign clinical entity, whereas in the presence of several ripples, the child is likely to have more seizures than classical rolandic epilepsy, and pharmacologic treatment might be needed.

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