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J Child Neurol. 2009 Dec;24(12):1536-42. doi: 10.1177/0883073809332395.

Idiopathic childhood occipital epilepsy of Gastaut: a review and differentiation from migraine and other epilepsies.

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Neuropediatric Department, Hospital de PediatrĂ­a Prof. Dr. Juan P. Garrahan, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The purpose of this review is to provide guidance for appropriate diagnosis and management of idiopathic childhood occipital epilepsy of Gastaut. The typical clinical features are visual seizures that typically consist of brief elementary visual hallucinations, which are mainly multicolored and circular. Ictal blindness and deviation of the eyes are also common symptoms. The seizures are usually frequent and diurnal. The electroencephalography is the only investigation with abnormal results, showing occipital spikes and often occipital paroxysms demonstrating fixation-off sensitivity. Brain magnetic resonance imaging is used to exclude symptomatic occipital epilepsy. Patients usually respond well to antiepileptic medication and about two-thirds remit by the age of 16 years. Idiopathic childhood occipital epilepsy of Gastaut is frequently misdiagnosed as migraine with visual aura, acephalgic, or basilar migraine. Differentiation from symptomatic occipital epilepsy, particularly when children are otherwise normal, can be difficult. Most children need prophylactic antiepileptic medication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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