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Long term course of childhood epilepsy following relapse after antiepileptic drug withdrawal
  1. P A D Bouma1,
  2. A C B Peters2,
  3. O F Brouwer3
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Division of Child Neurology, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Child Neurology, University Medical Center Utrecht and Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Neurology, Division of Child Neurology, Groningen University Hospital, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor A C B Peters, Department of Child Neurology, University Medical Center Utrecht and Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, The Netherlands;
 b.peters{at}wkz.azu.nl

Abstract

Objective: To explore the course of epilepsy following relapse after antiepileptic drug (AED) withdrawal.

Methods: Forty two patients were identified with onset of epilepsy in childhood in whom AEDs had been withdrawn after at least 2 years of seizure freedom, and in whom a relapse had occurred. Two patients were lost to follow up.

Results: Median follow up after AED withdrawal was 5.9 years (range 1.6–13.2 years). Relapse occurred in more than half of the patients within 6 months of AED withdrawal. At the end of follow up, 12 patients (30%) were seizure free for at least 1 year (mean 10.4 years) without medication; 16 (40%) were seizure free for at least 1 year (mean 5.3 years) with ongoing medication; and 12 patients (30%) were seizure free for less than 1 year with medication. No status epilepticus occurred in any patient after withdrawal. Age at onset, if over the age of 5, combined with normal intelligence were predictive of an excellent outcome; presence of a neurological disorder, and hence symptomatic aetiology, was predictive of poor outcome after a relapse.

Conclusions: Fears that premature withdrawal of AEDs might result in uncontrollable seizures were unsubstantiated in this study. The current practice of withdrawing AEDs in children who have been seizure free for 2 years can be benificial to most of these patients.

  • epilepsy
  • antiepileptic drugs
  • withdrawal
  • outcome
  • AEDs, antiepileptic drugs

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