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Seizure Disorder

Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures, the consequences of this condition and the occurrence of at least one seizure. Seizures can be classified as being partial-onset seizures and generalized-onset seizures.

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The symptoms of epilepsy usually vary on the basis of underlying pathology. Seizure is the only symptom which is present in all types of epilepsy. However, the associated symptoms may differ on the type of seizures.

Impairment or loss of consciousness is usually a feature of complex partial seizures. The level of consciousness is not affected in simple partial seizures. Atonic and tonic seizures often make the patient fall down.

Cerebral Palsy
  • EAPEN , Epilepsy in children with cerebral palsy , Seizure , 12 , 2 , (110) , (2003) .[doi.org]
  • The incidence of epilepsy in 323 patients with cerebral palsy (CP) was 41.8%. Almost half of the patients with spastic tetraplegia and hemiplegia had epilepsy. The incidence was lower in patients with spastic diplegia.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • RESULTS: Review: The prevalence of epilepsy in Ukraine amounts to 25 695 children (3.21%), higher than the prevalence of cerebral palsy or neuroinfections, the average value for 5 years is 24 667 children (3.144%).[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • palsy and severe intellectual disability as well as multifocal epilepsy.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • This brain damage can result in epilepsy or cerebral palsy. Developmental disorders. Epilepsy can sometimes be associated with developmental disorders, such as autism and neurofibromatosis.[mayoclinic.org]
Abdominal Pain
  • More severe liver injury can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, anorexia, jaundice and/or dark urine.[fda.gov]
  • The individual may also experience intense fear, abdominal pain or discomfort, or an awareness of increased respiration rate or heartbeat. The form of the onset of a seizure is, in most cases, the same from attack to attack.[britannica.com]
  • For phenytoin Gastrointestinal side effects including abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting: ( Cereghino 1974 ; Mattson 1985 ; Ramsay 1983 ). Drowsiness/tiredness/fatigue/sedation: ( De Silva 1996 ; Pulliainen 1994 ; Ramsay 1983 ).[doi.org]
  • In addition to the typical features of PTHS, the girl also had paroxysms of tachypnea followed by cyanosis and recurrent seizures.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Muscle Twitch
  • These seizures produce muscle twitches, convulsions and loss of consciousness. People with this type of epilepsy do not remember having a seizure.[faculty.washington.edu]
Anxiety Disorder
  • The identification of risk factors such as mood or anxiety disorders in patients with epilepsy should not delay AED treatment as the risks associated with seizures far outweigh the current research evidence for increased AED-related suicide risk.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Partial agonists of benzodiazepine receptors for the treatment of epilepsy, sleep, and anxiety disorders. Adv Biochem Psychopharmacol. 1992;47:379–94. PubMed Google Scholar 11. Costa E, Guidotti A.[doi.org]
  • An estimated one out of every three people who have epilepsy will develop clinical depression at some point in their lives, which is often accompanied by an anxiety disorder. Treatment for these issues, however, can help.[verywell.com]
  • Guekht , Anxiety disorders in epilepsy , Zhurnal nevrologii i psikhiatrii im. S.S. Korsakova , 10.17116/jnevro201811810237 , 118 , 10 , (37) , (2018) . Suat Sari, F.[doi.org]
  • , Journal of Anxiety Disorders , 7 , 1 , (21) , (1993) . S. Holtås , Neuroradiological Approach to the Epileptic Patient , Rivista di Neuroradiologia , 6 , 2_suppl , (27) , (1993) . Eric S. Freedland and David B.[dx.doi.org]
Visual Hallucination
  • The cortex is the outer layer of the brain, and seizure symptoms can vary from unusual sensations to visual hallucinations, emotional changes, or convulsions.[everydayhealth.com]
  • Types of auras include: Vision (visual): Visual auras can be simple, such as seeing bright flashes of light, dark spots, or tunnel vision, or they can be complex or experiential, such as blindness, visual hallucinations , illusions, and distorted scenery[verywell.com]
  • hallucinations, ictal blindness, vomiting and post-ictal headache; EEG typically shows interictal occipital spikes attenuated by eye opening an epilepsy syndrome with an age of onset of 3–10 years characterised by multiple seizure types (including atonic[pathways.nice.org.uk]
  • Mark Walterfang, Raju Yerra, Francesco Gaillard, Terence O’Brien, Ramon Mocellin and Dennis Velakoulis , Complex visual hallucinations and occipital seizures , Acta Neuropsychiatrica , 19 , 6 , (376-379) , (2007) .[doi.org]
Urinary Incontinence
  • At 14 years old, she experienced an aggravated seizure, manifesting as unconsciousness, hyperventilation, and urinary incontinence.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • The tongue may be bitten during involuntary contraction of the jaw muscles, and urinary incontinence may occur. Usually, the entire generalized tonic-clonic seizure is over in less than five minutes.[britannica.com]
  • About 75 percent have seizure disorders, and they hardly receive any medical treatment. Yoga offers an ancient yet amazingly modern approach to treating seizures.[ancienthistory.about.com]
  • In some cases, the test shows the area in the brain where the seizures start. The brain may appear normal after a seizure or between seizures.[medlineplus.gov]
  • These results further support striving for seizure freedom as an epilepsy care goal.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • On 1-year follow-up, patient and family members did not report episodic confusion or any seizure-like activity. RAS constitute a particular entity of seizures and need careful interpretation and management.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • CONCLUSION: Our case showed rare manifestations and special EEG features of PME, which may be confused with occipital epilepsy or photosensitive epilepsy.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Epileptic seizures typically last one to two minutes but can be followed by weakness, confusion, or unresponsiveness.[britannica.com]
  • Often people will be confused briefly after a generalized seizure. Partial or focal seizures: Only part of the brain is involved, so only part of the body is affected.[emedicinehealth.com]
  • Unfortunately, a great deal of misunderstanding and confusion about seizures still exists, so it is important that your child's friends and teachers become educated about her condition.[healthychildren.org]
  • These 'peaks' may be associated with side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness and lack of coordination.[doi.org]
  • Nevertheless, polytherapy often results in a number of unwanted effects, including neurological disturbances (somnolence, ataxia, dizziness), psychiatric and behavioural symptoms, and metabolic alteration (osteoporosis, inducement or inhibition of hepatic[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • These 'peaks' may be associated with side effects such as dizziness, double vision, drowsiness, unsteadiness and poor co‐ordination.[doi.org]
  • Carbamazepine (CBZ) is a commonly used drug for epilepsy that is associated with troublesome adverse events including dizziness, double vision, drowsiness, poor co-ordination and unsteadiness.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Here Prince Myshkin describes the onset of a seizure with an ecstatic aura.[charge.org.uk]
  • After experiencing the aura, the individual becomes unresponsive but may examine objects closely or walk around.[britannica.com]
  • Although an aura may signal a seizure only seconds before it occurs, an aura and a seizure may be separated by as much as an hour.[verywell.com]
  • METHODS: Up to four consecutive focal seizures were evaluated in 277 patients with lesional focal epilepsy, excluding isolated auras and subclinical EEG seizure patterns.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Aura Stage For some types of seizures, an aura happens before a seizure and may alert a person that a seizure may occur. Auras typically begin seconds before the seizure.[uchospitals.edu]
Febrile Convulsions
  • If your child has had a febrile convulsion , some parents may try controlling the fever using acetaminophen and sponging. However, these approaches do not prevent future febrile seizures, but only make the child more comfortable.[healthychildren.org]
  • Early childhood prolonged febrile convulsions, atrophy and sclerosis of mesial structures, and temporal lobe epilepsy: an MRI volumetric study. Neurology 1993; 43: 1083–7 PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar 14. Bjorholt PG, Nakken KO, Rohme K, et al.[dx.doi.org]
  • HEIJBEL , A Prospective Incidence Study of Febrile Convulsions , Acta Paediatrica , 79 , 5 , (550-557) , (2008) .[dx.doi.org]
  • This effect may explain, for example, why 2 patients who have a similar event (ie, simple febrile convulsion) may have remarkably dissimilar outcomes; that is, one may have completely normal development, and the other may have intractable focal-onset[emedicine.com]


Before the diagnosis of epilepsy is made, the following investigations are used to rule out infections or metabolic causes of seizures.

  • Blood Chemistry Panel
  • Serum urea, creatinine and electrolytes
  • Random blood sugar
  • Serum calcium and magnesium
  • Liver function tests
  • Lumbar puncture

Other investigations that will help diagnose epilepsy include the following.

  • Electroencephalography: Electroencephalography may help establish and characterize the type of epilepsy by demonstrating abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
  • Compuerized Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan: CT or MRI brain scanning is often useful in defining or excluding structural causes for seizures e.g. tumors and infections.
  • Position Emission Tomography (PET) and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT): PET and SPECT are also used to evaluate certain patients of seizures who do not respond to medical therapy.
  • (WM-suppressed), and gray-white matter tissue border enhancement (GW-TBE) MPRAGE sequences.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Various emotional factors may act as immediate triggers in reflex syncope and hyperventilation attacks, whereas in PNES, emotional traumas may be remote and suppressed.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Current antiepileptic drugs suppress seizures without influencing the underlying tendency to generate seizures, and are effective in 60-70% of individuals.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • This surgery should focus initially on well circumscribed lesions that do not require sophisticated methods of investigation and can be removed relatively easily, with a high probability of seizure suppression.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Electroencephalography showed spike-slow waves and slow waves with mixed asynchronized spike waves originating from the frontal lobe during the sleep stage. Transient outbreaks of spike-slow complex waves (1-2 s) were also noted in all leads.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • EEG findings showed that slow background activity was significantly common among patients with EP (P 0.009). Although only 5 of 15 patients with EP had been operated, 43 of 67 patients had undergone epilepsy surgery (P 0.04) in the control group.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • After infancy, the EEG background was normal (5), showed diffuse slowing (10) or focal slowing that was bilateral fronto-temporal (2) and left temporal (1).[brain.oxfordjournals.org]
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) showed progressively slowed background activity and sporadic generalized spike-and-wave discharges.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Her EEG showed slow background with continuous occipital small spikes and photosensitivity. The following genetic testing with mutation in CLN6 confirmed the diagnosis and excluded the occipital epilepsy.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Epileptiform Activity
  • It remains unclear whether seizures and epileptiform activity on the EEG are causative or comorbid. It is also uncertain if focal epileptiform EEG abnormalities may be associated with stable cognitive impairment.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Through an accurate Video-EEG polygraphic analysis, we demonstrated that seizures are related to an abnormal increase of epileptiform activity after eye-closure or loss of fixation as observed in the Fixation-Off Sensitivity (FOS) phenomenon.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Her EEG at 2 years was reported as showing frequent left central epileptiform activity. At 4 years, the EEG was more abnormal with the background predominantly comprising bilateral delta rhythms most prominent over the right central region.[brain.oxfordjournals.org]
  • Epileptiform activity characteristic of people with epilepsy includes abnormalities such as spikes, sharp waves and spike-wave complexes, ( slides 21 & 22 ). IV.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Focal Epileptiform Discharges
  • The cellular neurophysiologic correlate of an interictal focal epileptiform discharge in single cortical neurons is the paroxysmal depolarization shift (PDS).[emedicine.com]
3 Hz Spikes
  • Wong , Co-existence of Rolandic and 3 Hz Spike-Wave Discharges on EEG in Children with Epilepsy , Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences / Journal Canadien des Sciences Neurologiques , 10.1017/cjn.2018.364 , (1-7) , (2018) .[doi.org]
  • Renzo Guerrini, Michelle Bureau, Marie‐Geneviève Mattei, Agatino Battaglia, Marie‐Claude Galland and Joseph Roger , Trisomy 12p Syndrome: A Chromosomal Disorder Associated with Generalized 3Hz Spike and Wave Discharges , Epilepsia , 31 , 5 , (557-566[doi.org]


Immediate care of seizures:

Little can be done for a person having a major seizure. Supportive treatment includes first aid, maintenance of airway, provision of oxygen and administration of intravenous anticonvulsants.

Anti-convulsant drug therapy:

If the cause of epilepsy is treatable promptly, drug therapy is not necessary. Drug therapy is required when the cause is not immediately treatable and and the patient is at a risk of having further seizures. There are various anticonvulsant drugs with different mechanism of actions. They can be divided into the following large groups [6]. 

  • Sodium channels e.g. phenytoin, carbamazepine etc
  • GABA-A receptor enhancers e.g. phenobarbital
  • T-calcium channel blockers e.g. valproate
  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors e.g. zonisamide
  • Blockers of unique binding sites e.g. gabapentin

Surgical choices

The type of epilepsy surgery depends on the location in the brain causing the seizures. Anterior temporal lobectomy is the most common surgical choice in adults [7]. In children, the surgical choices include corpus callosotomy and hemispherectomy [8] [9].


If epilepsy is properly controlled via medications, the lifespan of the patients is completely normal.

Even without treatment, sudden death in the patients suffering from epilepsy is very uncommon. Those suffering from tonic-clonic seizures may suffer from accidents and traumas. Mortality is also higher in the patients whose seizures are associated with loss of consciousness.


The etiology of epilepsy varies with age group.

In neonates, developmental insufficiency or brain injury are the most common causes for the development of epilepsy.

In the infantile age group, the principal congenital malformations, perinatal injury and metabolic disorders are the principal causes of epilepsy.

In children and adolescents, epilepsy usually results from genetic causes.

In adults, in addition to genetic causes, cerebral neoplasms, drugs, alcohol withdrawal, brain trauma, stroke, infection and surgery are the predisposing conditions that lead to the development of epilepsy.

The genetic syndromes that cause seizures include Angelman syndrome, Rett syndrome, Pitt Hopkin’s syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Prader Willi syndrome and Struge Weber syndrome [1][2].


The annual incidence of epilepsy in Minnesota was demonstrated by a study to be around a 100 cases per 100,000 persons aged between 0 to 1 years; 40 cases per 100,000 persons aged 38 to 40 years and 140 cases per 100,000 persons aged 79-80 years.

Overall, the total incidence of epilepsy is 3400 per 100,000 men (3.4%) and 2800 per 100,000 women (2.8%) by the age of 75 years [3].

Sex distribution
Age distribution


Seizures result from a sudden imbalance between the excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms in the brain [4].

Partial seizures are those in which the seizure activity is restricted to one part of the cerebrum; i.e. the focus of increased electrical activity is in one hemisphere.

On the other hand, in generalized seizures, diffuse regions of both the hemispheres are involved simultaneously and sunchronously.

If any seizure remains for 60 minutes, irreversible brain damage occurs. Cell death occurs from excessively increased metabolic demands of the continuously discharging neurons.


Since the cause of epilepsy is not exactly known, it is not possible to prevent it. However, head injury being the most important cause, if avoided can prevent the development of epilepsy [10]. Wearing seat belts, following traffic rules and avoiding accidents is helpful in reducing the risk of head trauma.
Epileptics sensitive to alcohol must prevent alcohol intake.


A seizure or convulsion is a paroxysmal involuntary disturbance of brain function that may be manifested as an impairment or loss of consciousness, abnormal motor activity, behavioral abnormalities, sensory disturbances or autonomic dysfunction.
Epilepsy is defined as a brain disorder that is characterized by recurrent seizures unrelated to fever or to an acute cerebral etiology.

Patient Information

Epilepsy is a group of disorders characterized by seizures in association with loss of consciousness and psychic abnormalities. The patients of epilepsy may belong to any age group. Early diagnosis and proper management of the disease improves the outcome. Treatment may be done through anti-seizure drugs or brain surgery.



  1. Steffenburg U, Hagberg G, Hagberg B. Epilepsy in a representative series of Rett syndrome. Acta paediatrica. Jan 2001;90(1):34-39.
  2. Whalen S, Heron D, Gaillon T, et al. Novel comprehensive diagnostic strategy in Pitt-Hopkins syndrome: clinical score and further delineation of the TCF4 mutational spectrum. Human mutation. Jan 2012;33(1):64-72.
  3. Hauser WA, Annegers JF, Rocca WA. Descriptive epidemiology of epilepsy: contributions of population-based studies from Rochester, Minnesota. Mayo Clinic proceedings. Jun 1996;71(6):576-586.
  4. Engelborghs S, D'Hooge R, De Deyn PP. Pathophysiology of epilepsy. Acta neurologica Belgica. Dec 2000;100(4):201-213.
  5. Tharyan P. Prolactin levels in epilepsy. The Journal of the Association of Physicians of India. Jun 1991;39(6):505-506.
  6. Goldenberg MM. Overview of drugs used for epilepsy and seizures: etiology, diagnosis, and treatment. P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management. Jul 2010;35(7):392-415.
  7. Matsuura M. Indication for anterior temporal lobectomy in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and psychopathology. Epilepsia. 2000;41 Suppl 9:39-42.
  8. Gonzalez-Martinez JA, Gupta A, Kotagal P, et al. Hemispherectomy for catastrophic epilepsy in infants. Epilepsia. Sep 2005;46(9):1518-1525.
  9. Rahimi SY, Park YD, Witcher MR, Lee KH, Marrufo M, Lee MR. Corpus callosotomy for treatment of pediatric epilepsy in the modern era. Pediatric neurosurgery. 2007;43(3):202-208.
  10. Pitkanen A, Bolkvadze T. Head Trauma and Epilepsy. In: Noebels JL, Avoli M, Rogawski MA, Olsen RW, Delgado-Escueta AV, eds. Jasper's Basic Mechanisms of the Epilepsies. 4th ed. Bethesda (MD)2012.

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Last updated: 2017-08-09 18:13