HOUSTON—The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) has approved a new seizure classification. Robert S. Fisher, MD, PhD, Director of the
Epilepsy Center at Stanford University in California
and Chair of the ILAE’s Seizure Classification Task
Force, described the classification at the 70th Annual
Meeting of the American Epilepsy Society.
The existing classification, published in 1981, worked
well, but its limitations became apparent over time, Dr.
Fisher said. For example, certain seizure types (eg, tonic) only existed in the generalized seizure category, even
though they can occur focally. In addition, it was impossible to classify a seizure without knowing its onset, and
some common seizures could not be classified at all.
The 2017 ILAE Seizure Classification addresses those
limitations and updates certain terms to make them
clearer to patients and people who do not specialize in
seizure classification. “Some patients construe the word
‘simple’ to mean easy, and they feel that their seizures
are not simple at all,” Dr. Fisher said. “So, a simple
partial seizure is now going to be called a focal aware
seizure. A complex partial seizure is a focal impaired
Impairment of consciousness has always played a
key role in classifying seizures. The 2017 classification
uses awareness as a surrogate marker of consciousness.
Awareness can be used to classify focal, but not general-
ized onset, seizures in the new classification.
Volume 25, Number 1
ILAE Approves New
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