Epilepsy Classification

The modern classification of the epilepsies is based upon the nature of the attack rather than the presence or absence of an underlying cause. The use of the electroencephalogram (EEG) has greatly increased our understanding of the source of 'point of origin' of any particular type of epileptic attack.

Attacks which begin focally from a single location within one hemisphere are thus distinguished from those of a generalised nature which probably commence in deeper midline structures and project to both hemispheres simultaneously.


1 PARTIAL (focal, local) SEIZURES

Cortical origin \

Cortical origin

Cortical origin

Focal EEG abnormality

A. Simple partial seizures

- motor

- sensory

B. Complex partial seizures (when partial seizure is accompanied by any degree of impaired conscious level)

C. Partial seizures evolving to tonic/clonic convulsion

Focal EEG abnormality


EEG abnormality

2 GENERALISED SEIZURES (convulsive or non-convulsive)

A. Absences

B. Myoclonic seizures

C. Clonic seizures

D. Tonic seizures

E. Tonic/clonic seizures

F. Atonic seizures


EEG abnormality

Subcortical origin

3 UNCLASSIFIED SEIZURES, e.g. Some neonatal seizures

Rhythmic eye movement disorders

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