Continuous Spike and Waves During Sleep and Electrical Status Epilepticus in Sleep

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Continuous spike and waves during sleep is an age-related epileptic encephalopathy that presents with neurocognitive regression, seizures, and an EEG pattern of electrical status epilepticus during sleep. Patients usually present around 5 years of age with infrequent nocturnal unilateral motor seizures that progress within 1 to 2 years to a severe epileptic encephalopathy with frequent seizures of different types, marked neurocognitive regression, and an almost continuous spike-wave EEG pattern during slow-wave sleep. The pathophysiology of continuous spike and waves during sleep is not completely understood, but the corticothalamic neuronal network involved in physiologic oscillating patterns of sleep is thought to be switched into a pathologic discharging mode. Early developmental injury and/or genetic predisposition may play a role in the potentiation of age-related hyperexcitability in the immature brain. A better understanding of the mechanisms leading to electrical status epilepticus during sleep may provide additional therapeutic targets that can improve the outcome of seizures, EEG pattern, and cognitive development in patients with continuous spike and waves during sleep.

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