BACKGROUND: The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques in clinical practice led to a significant advance in gene discovery. We aimed to describe diagnostic yields of a "dynamic" exome-based approach in a cohort of patients with epilepsy associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective, observational study on 72 probands. All patients underwent a first diagnostic level of a 135 gene panel, a second of 297 genes for inconclusive cases, and finally, a whole-exome sequencing for negative cases. Diagnostic yields at each step and cost-effectiveness were the objects of statistical analysis.
RESULTS: Overall diagnostic yield in our cohort was 37.5%: 29% of diagnoses derived from the first step analysis, 5.5% from the second step, and 3% from the third. A significant difference emerged between the three diagnostic steps (p < 0.01), between the first and second (p = 0.001), and the first and third (p < 0.001). The cost-effectiveness plane indicated that our exome-based "dynamic" approach was better in terms of cost savings and higher diagnostic rate.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggested that "dynamic" NGS techniques applied to well-phenotyped individuals can save both time and resources. In patients with unexplained epilepsy comorbid with NDDs, our approach might maximize the number of diagnoses achieved.