Rinsho Shinkeigaku (Clinical Neurology)

Case Report

Episodic ataxia type 2 manifests as epileptiform electroencephalographic activity with no epileptic attacks in two family members

Misako Kaido, M.D., Ph.D.1), Mitsuru Furuta, M.D.2), Masayuki Nakamori, M.D., Ph.D.2), Yoshihito Yuasa, M.D.1) and Masanori P. Takahashi, M.D., Ph.D.2)

1)Department of Neurology, Sakai City Medical Center
2)Department of Neurology, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine

Here, we report two cases of episodic ataxia type 2 (EA2) in a 63-year-old woman and her 36-year-old daughter. The mother experienced recurrent attacks of cerebellar dysfunction lasting 4 to 5 hours since the age of 41 years. On several occasions, she was admitted to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with epilepsy or stroke. Based on these diagnoses, she was treated with antiepileptic or anticoagulant drugs, but both treatments were eventually discontinued. The frequency of the attacks increased after the patient reached the age of 62. Interictal neurological examination demonstrated signs of slight cerebellar ataxia, i.e. saccadic eye movements, gaze-directed nystagmus, and mild truncal ataxia. Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed cerebellar vermis atrophy. Electroencephalography (EEG) revealed various spike and wave patterns: solitary spikes, spike-and-slow wave complexes, and slow wave bursts. Photoparoxysmal response (PPR) type 3 was also observed. Treatment with acetazolamide abolished the patient's attacks almost completely. The daughter started experiencing 5- to 10-minute ataxic episodes at the age of 16 years. Based on her epileptiform EEG activities with PPR (type 2), antiepileptic drugs (valproate and zonisamide) were prescribed. Despite pharmacological treatment, the attacks recurred; however, their frequency gradually decreased with time, until they almost entirely disappeared when the patient was 33. Unfortunately, migraine-like headaches arose instead. Subtle truncal ataxia was observed during interictal periods. Sanger sequencing of the exons of the CACNA1A gene revealed a novel single base deletion (c.3575delA) in both patients. Despite the difference in age of onset and clinical course, both patients showed clearly epileptiform EEG activities without experiencing the concurrent epileptic episodes. Thus, EA2 is a disease that may be misdiagnosed as epilepsy or stroke in the field of emergency medicine.
Full Text of this Article in Japanese PDF (2594K)

(CLINICA NEUROL, 56: 260|264, 2016)
key words: episodic ataxia type 2, electroencephalography (EEG), epilepsy, CACNA1A gene, single base deletion

(Received: 16-Dec-15)