About Benign Rolandic Epilepsy
Benign rolandic epilepsy is a medical condition in which the patient has seizures originating in the area of the brain known as the rolandic area. The seizures occurring or seen in benign rolandic epilepsy are mostly partial or focal, as only a part of the brain is involved. It also termed as ‘benign’ because the prognosis of this condition is good. Almost all the children with benign rolandic epilepsy will outgrow this condition during puberty.
Benign Rolandic Epilepsy in Children
Benign rolandic epilepsy is one of the common types of epilepsy which affects children. Boys are a little bit more affected with benign rolandic epilepsy than girls. About 1 in 5 children suffering from epilepsy will have benign rolandic epilepsy. This condition often starts between the ages of 3 and 10 years, and halts around the ages of 14 to 18 years during the puberty phase. Children suffering from benign rolandic epilepsy are often well otherwise, and do not experience any major learning problems. However, very few kids can face difficulties with language and reading; problems with visuospatial skills and drawing.
Does Benign Rolandic Epilepsy Have Other Names?
Benign rolandic epilepsy is also known as benign epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes (BECTS) and benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood (BREC).
What are the Causes of Benign Rolandic Epilepsy?
The exact cause of benign rolandic epilepsy is not clear and it is thought to occur as a result of some genetic abnormality. Patient can also have a family history of benign rolandic epilepsy or other type of epilepsy.
What are the Symptoms of Benign Rolandic Epilepsy?
Seizures of Benign Rolandic Epilepsy usually commence when the child is sleeping or about to wake up in the morning. Patient will experience pins and needles or a tingling sensation on one side of the mouth including the lips, tongue, gums and inner side of their cheek. There can also be a fizzy sensation on the tongue felt by the child. The throat can also be involved in the seizures of benign rolandic epilepsy rendering speech difficulty for the patient. Patients suffering from benign rolandic epilepsy can also make strange gurgling or throaty noises.
Benign rolandic epilepsy seizures can also cause stiffness and twitching movements on one side of the mouth or face and from here the movements can extend to the arm and/or the leg, typically on the same side as the facial movements. In some patients, benign rolandic epilepsy can affect both the sides of the body. In such a case scenario, the patient has loss of consciousness, stiffness with jerking movements in the arms and legs. These movements are termed as tonic-clonic seizure. The patient can also become incontinent. After the benign rolandic epilepsy seizures have subsided, the patient feels sleepy and can sleep for some hours.
How is Benign Rolandic Epilepsy Diagnosed?
Complete medical history of the patient is taken and EEG (electroencephalogram) test is done on the patient to diagnose benign rolandic epilepsy. The EEG helps with the diagnosis by recording the electrical activity occurring in the brain and will detect any epileptic activity occurring in the centro-temporal or rolandic part of the brain. In some patients with benign rolandic epilepsy the EEG can be normal. However, this does not exclude Benign Rolandic Epilepsy and a sleep-deprived EEG recording will be done on the patient to confirm the diagnosis of benign rolandic epilepsy.
How is Benign Rolandic Epilepsy Treated?
Benign rolandic epilepsy does not always need treatment, as the seizures tend to subside after the patient attains puberty. Treatment is also not always needed as the patient may have only 1 or 2 seizures in a year. If the frequency of seizures is more in benign rolandic epilepsy, then medications such as lamotrigine, carbamazepine, sodium valproate or levetiracetam are prescribed to control the seizures.
What is the Prognosis of Benign Rolandic Epilepsy?
The prognosis of Benign Rolandic Epilepsy is good; hence it is termed as “benign.” Almost all the patients will stop having seizures after reaching puberty.
Patients suffering from Benign Rolandic Epilepsy usually will not face any learning difficulties. In rare cases, some children can experience difficulties with language, reading or drawing and thus need support to cope.
- Wirrell EC. Benign rolandic epilepsy of childhood (BREC) and benign epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes (BECTS). Epilepsia. 2006;47(Suppl 2):70-71. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2006.00659.x
- Pinto FCB, Fontenelle LF, de Araujo Filho GM, Valente KD, Terra VC. Benign rolandic epilepsy: electroclinical and neuropsychological follow-up of affected children. J Child Neurol. 2011;26(7):858-862. doi:10.1177/0883073810396174
- Bautista RE, Díaz RF. Benign childhood epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes. Rev Neurol. 2003;36(3):248-251. PMID: 12640518