Tactile-evoked Rolandic Discharges: A Benign Finding?


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. P. K. H. Wong at Department of Paediatrics, British Columbia's Children's Hospital, 1D43 4480 Oak St., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6H 3V4. E-mail: pwong@interchange.ubc.ca


Summary:  Purpose: This retrospective study was undertaken to determine if patients having tactile-evoked rolandic discharges were a more “benign” patient population than those with spontaneously occurring nontactile rolandic discharges and to determine whether the presence of tactile-evoked rolandic discharges was a marker for the future development of epilepsy, as previously reported.

Methods: During this 8-year study, 304 patients were seen with rolandic discharges. These patients all had tactile stimulation of their hands and/or feet. They formed two groups: patients with spontaneous rolandic discharges that could not be evoked by tactile stimulation (NT) and patients with spontaneous rolandic discharges that could be enhanced with tactile stimulation (TE). Over a 14-month period, every patient had tactile stimulation of both hands and both feet, resulting in a third group of patients having rolandic discharges seen only with tapping (TO).

Results: Tactile-enhanced discharges constituted 38.2% of all rolandic discharges. Patients with TE and TO discharges had a higher incidence of normal development and intelligence, normal neurologic examinations, and a lower incidence of seizures and focal or generalized background abnormalities on their EEGs. Only one patient with normal background and no coexisting epileptiform abnormalities had partial motor seizures with corresponding contralateral central discharges. Only two patients who had no seizures at the time of their first EEG subsequently went on to develop seizures. Neither fit the pattern of the seizure disorder described in the literature.

Conclusions: It is hypothesized that tactile-evoked rolandic discharges are a benign, age-related phenomenon, which do not represent a marker for the future development of epilepsy and are not the interictal electrographic correlate to an already existing seizure disorder.