Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android


An epileptic seizure is a paroxysmal disorder characterized by an abnormal, excessive, hypersynchronous discharge of neurons which results in an alteration of function of the patient. This alteration of function can be quite dramatic such as during a generalized tonic–clonic (grand mal) seizure or much more subtle such as during an absence (petit mal) seizure. Epilepsy is a condition characterized by repeated, unprovoked seizures. If the seizures are consistently provoked, such as by fever or hypoglycemia, the term epilepsy should not be used. Epilepsy is not a single disorder, but rather a symptom of underlying brain dysfunction.


A classification of epileptic seizures and syndromes is an essential step in developing communication and provides a basis for an understanding of the underlying processes of epilepsy. A classification system provides guidance in determining the diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and prognosis (Table 1–1). However, no single classification code can cover the multiple aspects of epilepsy including behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) features, age of onset, and etiology (including genetic susceptibility and acquired insults). In addition, limited knowledge regarding the basic mechanism does not permit classification on the physiopathology of the disorder.


The first modern classification system of seizures was proposed in 1969 by an ad hoc committee of the International League Against Epilepsy.1 In 1981, the classification was revised.2 It is based on two criteria: the clinical features and the EEG features of the seizures. Seizures are classified into two broad categories: (a) ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.