Partial seizures with affective semiology versus pavor nocturnus

Cesare Maria Cornaggia, Massimiliano Beghi, Simona Giovannini, Antonella Boni, Giuseppe Gobbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sudden nocturnal events with an affective semiology may have various etiologies, such as nocturnal panic attacks, nightmares, pavor nocturnus and/or different types of focal epileptic seizures, particularly in children. We describe the case of a normally developed boy who, at the age of two years, experienced nocturnal paroxysmal events that occurred about one hour after falling asleep and lasted up to 15 minutes. The clinical picture was characterized by sudden arousal, fear, inconsolable crying and an apparently voluntary search for his mother. The state of consciousness was basically maintained, and the inter-ictal EEG pattern showed independent bilateral centro-temporal spikes and spike-and-wave complexes. The child had a family history of benign partial epilepsy of childhood with rolandic spikes, and the paroxysmal events remitted after valproic acid treatment. This case report highlights the difficulties in the differential diagnosis of panic attacks, nightmares, pavor nocturnus and focal nocturnal epileptic seizures, especially those arising from the temporal and frontal lobes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-68
Number of pages4
JournalEpileptic Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Affective seizures
  • Benign childhood epilepsy
  • Childhood
  • Paroxysmal event
  • Pavor nocturnus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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