PURPOSE: There is a lack of information on the annual incidence of genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE) in the Arab countries, especially Oman. Ascertaining the true burden of illness has crucial implications for health policies and priorities. We aim to study the clinico-electrographic characteristics, classification, and annual incidence of GGE in Oman.
METHOD: Using the cross-sectional data of EEGs obtained from all patients with GGE who presented to Sultan Qaboos University hospital (major referral center for epilepsy in Oman) from January 2007 to June 2014. Analyses were performed using univariate statistics.
RESULTS: Approximately 10,423 patients had EEG studies during the study period of which 376 patients (3.6 %) had EEG abnormalities suggestive of GGE. Forty two percent of the 376 GGE patients were male with ages ranging from 3 to 58 years. We were able to classify 273 patients to one of the GGE syndromes. Forty-three percent of 130 patients had a positive family history of epilepsy in their first or second-degree relatives. The generalized tonic-clonic seizure was the most common seizure type observed in 242 patients (64 %; 95 %CI: 59.2 %-68.9 %). Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy was the most common epilepsy syndrome (41 % of the total GGE patients) encountered in our region. A significant female predominance (9.7 % vs 2.5 %; p = 0.016) was observed in juvenile absence epilepsy. Certain interictal focal EEG abnormalities did not exclude a diagnosis of GGE. An average annual GGE incidence of 2.9 % (95 % CI: 2.6 %-3.2 %) was observed during the study period.
CONCLUSION: This hospital-based study is the first of its kind in the Arabian Gulf region, classifying the different subcategories of GGE. Our results indicate that GGE is a common epilepsy subtype in Oman. A prospective population-based epidemiological study is required to estimate the precise frequency of GGE in Oman.