Occipital lobe epilepsies (OLE) comprise 5-10% of focal epilepsies in surgical and paediatric series; with little data from adult medical cohorts. This longitudinal study examined OLE patients, to characterise prevalence, semiology, co-morbidity and prognosis in a neurology outpatient setting.
24 adult OLE patients identified over 12 months from 1548 patients in a neurologist’s service were followed over 12 years.
92% of these OLE patients had simple visual hallucinations, misdiagnosed in 40% of cases. 75% had co-morbid interictal migraine and 38% had visual field defects. Only 33% achieved long-term remission, and only 2 /10 (20%) of OLE patients with a structural aetiology were seizure-free. The two patients with migralepsy achieved remission.
Adult OLE accounted for 7.7% of focal epilepsies in this cohort, misdiagnosed or misclassified in 40%. Most patients had co-existing migraine. A minority had migralepsy characterised by a longer aura and good prognosis. Remission rates were lower than that of childhood OLE and general adult epilepsy populations, strengthening the argument for considering epilepsy surgery in drug-resistant OLE patients with a structural cause. Precision medicine will potentially refine diagnosis and management in those OLE patients without an identified cause but is predicated on accurate clinical phenotyping.