Merosin-negative congenital muscular dystrophy, occipital epilepsy with periodic spasms and focal cortical dysplasia. Report of three Italian cases in two families

Antonella Pini, Luciano Merlini, Fernando M S Tomé, Martine Chevallay, Giuseppe Gobbi

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We report clinical, EEG and neuroimaging findings of three patients in two Italian families with merosin-negative congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD), drug-resistant occipital epilepsy, diffuse persistent cerebral white matter changes and focal cortical dysplasia. Clinical and epilepsy histories, EEG and neuroimaging findings were very similar in all patients. Seizures started in childhood and mainly consisted of periodic spasms, a particular type of partial seizure characterized by clusters of epileptic spasms. The motor expression of the spasms was very mild so that they had been frequently missed or misinterpreted as non-convulsive generalized absence seizures. Interictal EEG showed occipital spike-waves and bilateral synchronous slow spike-wave discharges. Ictal EEG showed prolonged periodic sequences of slow waves with associated fast rhythm complexes, characteristic of periodic spasms. Two patients had normal intelligence, one patient presented moderate mental retardation. Focal cortical dysplasia in the posterior areas of the brain, in addition to marked diffuse white matter alterations, was detected in the magnetic resonance images of all patients. Findings in these patients indicate that in merosin-negative CMD brain involvement can include cortical dysplasia, in addition to white matter changes. In such cases the brain damage can lead to a childhood-onset localization-related symptomatic occipital epilepsy. Epileptic seizures and cortical dysplasia can be, however, difficult to detect in CMD. The clinical semiology of epileptic seizures may in fact be modified because of muscular weakness. This implies that epilepsy may be misdiagnosed or even missed and EEG-polymyographic recordings may be necessary to identify it. Similarly, cortical dysplasia may be very localized and visible by neuroimaging only if it is carefully investigated on the basis of epileptological and EEG-polymyographic findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-322
Number of pages7
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1996


  • Congenital muscular dystrophy
  • Cortical dysplasia
  • Epileptic spasm
  • Mierosin deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology


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