What is the prognosis of absence seizures?

Updated: Sep 25, 2018
  • Author: Scott Segan, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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The prognosis for the primary generalized epilepsies depends on the particular epileptic syndrome. Because seizures, particularly generalized tonic-clonic seizures, may occur well after patients appear to achieve good control, a long seizure-free period should be achieved before discontinuation of therapy is considered.

The remission rate for childhood absence epilepsy is good; 80% of patients respond to medication. Complete remission rates vary widely, perhaps dependent on the length of follow-up.

Generalized tonic-clonic seizures may develop in up to 40% of children with childhood absence epilepsy. [26] Persistence of seizures is more likely in those with generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

Early onset of absence seizures, quick response to therapy, [52] and normal EEG background are good prognostic signs.

Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy carries a high risk of generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Despite excellent control with relatively small doses of an AED, the relapse rate is greater than 90%. [53]

Patients with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy generally need to be treated for life, although occasional patients achieve control with careful attention to lifestyle issues (eg, adequate sleep, abstinence from alcohol).

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