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ILAE classification of seizures and epilepsy

Christian M Korff, MD
Elaine Wirrell, MD
Section Editors
Timothy A Pedley, MD
Douglas R Nordli, Jr, MD
Deputy Editor
Janet L Wilterdink, MD


Epilepsy is defined as a disorder of the brain characterized by an enduring predisposition to epileptic seizures [1]. It is a heterogenous condition characterized by multiple possible seizure types and syndromes, diverse etiologies, and variable prognoses. Accurate classification is essential for several reasons [2]:

To provide a framework for understanding the type(s) of seizure(s) a patient has, other types that are more likely to occur, potential seizure triggers, and prognosis

To inform the risk of comorbidities (eg, psychiatric, cognitive) and mortality, including sudden unexpected death in epilepsy

To guide choice of optimal antiseizure drug and surgical therapies

Over the past several decades, significant advances in neuroimaging, genomic technologies, and molecular biology have improved the understanding of the pathogenesis of seizures and epilepsy. In addition, additional epilepsy syndromes have been delineated. As a result, existing International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) classification systems for seizures and epilepsies have become outdated and inadequate [3,4].

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 03, 2017.
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