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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Types of epilepsy

Types of epilepsy

An epileptic seizure is a transient occurrence of signs and or symptoms due to abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain. Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures and by the neurobiologic, cognitive, psychological, and social consequences of this condition. The definition of epilepsy requires the occurrence of at least one epileptic seizure.


Major types of epilepsy

Generalized idiopathic epilepsies

  • Benign Myoclonic epilepsy in infants
  • Juvenile Myoclonic epilepsy
  • Childhood absence epilepsy
  • Juvenile absence epilepsy
  • Epilepsy with generalized tonic clonic seizures in childhood

Generalized symptomatic epilepsies

  • Infantile spasms (West syndrome)
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
  • Progressive myoclonus epilepsies

Partial epilepsies

Unclassified epilepsies

  • Febrile fits
  • Epilepsy with continuous spike and waves in slow wave sleep (ESES)
  • Landau Kleffner syndrome
  • Rasmussen's syndrome
  • Epilepsy and inborn errors in metabolism

Generalized idiopathic epilepsies

  • In generalized idiopathic epilepsy, there usually a family history of epilepsy.
  • Idiopathic generalized epilepsy tends to appear during childhood or adolescence, but diagnosis usually done by adulthood.
  • In this type of epilepsy, there is no central nervous system (brain or spinal cord) abnormalities other than the seizures have been identified as of yet.
  • The brain is structurally normal on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI or CT) scan.
  • They have normal intelligence and normal nervous system examination.
  • EEG show abnormal epileptic discharges affecting the entire brain

Generalized symptomatic epilepsies

Symptomatic generalized epilepsy is caused by widespread brain damage.

Injury during birth is the most common cause of symptomatic generalized epilepsy.

Other causes are inherited brain diseases, (Adrenoleukodystrophy), brain infections (such as meningitis and encephalitis), head trauma, brain tumor or stroke, alternation in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)

In addition to seizures, these patients often have other neurological problems, such as mental retardation or cerebral palsy.

Multiple types of seizures includes

Generalized tonic-clonic

  • Tonic
  • Myoclonic
  • Tonic
  • Atonic
  • Absence seizures

Symptomatic partial epilepsies

  • Symptomatic partial (or focal) epilepsy is the most common type of epilepsy that begins in adulthood, but it does occur frequently in children.
  • This type of epilepsy is caused by a localized abnormality of the brain, which can result from strokes, tumors, trauma, congenital (present at birth) brain abnormality, scarring or "sclerosis" of brain tissue, cysts or infections.
  • EEG and MRI show brain abnormalities.
  • Symptomatic partial epilepsies are successfully treated with surgery that is aimed to remove the abnormal brain area without compromising the function of the rest of the brain.
  • Epilepsy surgery is very successful in a large number of epilepsy patients who failed multiple anticonvulsant medications.

Idiopathic partial epilepsies

  • Idiopathic partial epilepsy begins in childhood and may have a family history.
  • It is almost always outgrown by puberty and is never diagnosed in adults.
  • Also known as benign focal epilepsy of childhood (BFEC), this is considered one of the mildest types of epilepsy.
  • Seizures tend to occur during sleep and are most often simple partial motor seizures that involve the face and secondarily generalized (grand mal) seizures.
  • EEG is typically diagnostic, as patients with BFEC exhibit very specific EEG brain wave patterns.