Which findings on a general physical exam are characteristic of infantile spasm (West syndrome)?

Updated: Jan 11, 2019
  • Author: Tracy A Glauser, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen L Nelson, Jr, MD, PhD, FAACPDM, FAAN, FAAP  more...
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Answer

Physical examination can be important in helping to identify specific etiologies that may have a combination of systemic and neurologic symptoms (eg, tuberous sclerosis complex). However, a patient with infantile spasms often has normal findings on general physical examination, and no pathognomonic physical findings are present in patients with infantile spasms.

Patients may exhibit moderate to severe growth delay, but this is a nonspecific finding that is more a reflection of the underlying brain injury than of a specific epilepsy syndrome.

Nonetheless, if certain abnormalities in the general physical examination are noted (eg, adenoma sebaceum, ash leaf macules), specific etiologies may be suggested.


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