New clinical definition for epilepsy promises to improve treatment

Posted Apr 14 2014 in Other treatments

doctor sitting at desk

A new clinical definition for epilepsy has been devised by an expert task force with the aim of making the condition easier to diagnose and treat.

Published in the medical journal Epilepsia on behalf of the International League Against Epilepsy, the new definition provides a greater level of detail to diagnose epilepsy than the previous guidelines, which were laid down in 2005.

It suggests that epilepsy is a disease of the brain defined as at least two unprovoked or reflex seizures occurring more than 24 hours apart, or one seizure and a probability of further seizures similar to the general recurrence risk of at least 60 per cent after two unprovoked seizures occurring over the next ten years.

The task force’s new definition – which also encompasses patients who have been diagnosed with an epilepsy syndrome – improves upon the older designation of epilepsy as an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures, with accompanying neurobiologic, cognitive, psychological and social consequences. This previous definition of epilepsy required the occurrence of at least one epileptic seizure.

Task force lead author Dr Robert Fisher from Stanford University School of Medicine explained: “The 2005 definition does not allow a patient to outgrow epilepsy, nor does it take into account some clinicians’ views that epilepsy is present after a first unprovoked seizure when there is a high risk for another. The task force recommendation resolves these issues with the new, more practical, definition of epilepsy that is aimed at clinicians.”

It was also noted that some researchers might choose to use criteria similar to the older definition to facilitate comparison with prior studies, while the 2005 outline might also be preferred if information is not available on recurrence risk after a first seizure.

The International League Against Epilepsy is the world’s most prominent association of physicians and health professionals dedicated to the treatment of epilepsy and has been providing educational and research resources on the subject since 1909.

Posted by Bob Jones

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