The field of childhood epilepsy has witnessed a remarkable transformation over the past two decades. Once viewed as a handmaiden of adult epilepsy, the early-onset epilepsies have come into their own as a major area of medical importance. In many ways the diversity of pediatric epileptic seizures and epilepsy syndromes, the many etiologies of epilepsy presenting in the first two decades, and their far-reaching comorbidities surpass that of the adult-onset epilepsies. Advances in clinical semiology and diagnosis, epilepsy classification, methods of evaluation, and treatment have all played major roles. A perusal of any epileptology journal or attendance at an epilepsy symposium provides clear evidence of the growing number of research studies and intense clinical interest in pediatric epilepsy.
It is difficult to capture the entire spectrum of progress in childhood seizure disorders in a single volume. By itself, literature concerning brain development and epilepsy would constitute an enormous compendium of information. Similarly, advances in diagnostics, including imaging and electrophysiology, are sufficiently robust to require their own self-contained bodies of work. The pharmacology of antiepileptic drugs and surgical strategies for epilepsy management are also areas that have witnessed explosive growth.
Pediatric Epilepsy was developed in direct response to the clinical needs of the greater pediatric epileptology community. We have endeavored to distill core information about pediatric epilepsy and create a volume that is authoritative yet concise. By focusing on clinical treatment issues, we hope to provide useful guidelines for practical management that can be applied directly at the bedside and in the clinic. This information will hopefully not only be useful to epilepsy specialists but also to pediatricians, general neurologists, nurses, and allied professionals. It is our additional hope that the inclusion of management algorithms in many of the chapters will provide particularly valuable pointers for managing childhood epilepsy. While the algorithms should not be regarded as authoritative, they nevertheless are important starting points for the evaluation of epilepsy and treatment decision making.
Achieving these goals is not an easy task. Fortunately, the contributors are all distinguished experts in their respective fields. International in scope, they are drawn from 14 countries and 5 continents and bring a vast depth of experience to the project. Each chapter includes timely and informative information that is supported by figures, tables, and diagrams and followed by key references. These contributions form a solid foundation, and we are deeply appreciative of the authors' talents, efforts, and patience as the book was being assembled.
We sincerely believe that the collective efforts of everyone involved in bringing this volume to fruition—authors, editors, and publisher will together provide a fresh source of information and a reliable guide for clinicians involved in the care of children with epilepsy and related disorders. Knowledge changes every day, but a good “snapshot in time” can freeze that knowledge and allow an unhurried, in-depth look. If we can achieve this simple goal, we all will be richly rewarded.