An appraisal of the new operational definition of epilepsy-Then and now

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Malkan, Ashish
Beran, Roy G
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2014
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Abstract

The focus to define epilepsy in the newly proposed classification has shifted from the conceptual perspective to practical application thought to better reflect that which is happening to the patient. Within the new definition, a single unprovoked or reflex seizure can be considered as epilepsy if the recurrence risk is similar to that following two unprovoked seizures. Epilepsy is considered to be resolved if the individual had an age-dependent epilepsy syndrome and has passed the applicable age or if the person has remained seizure-free for the last ten years without seizure medications for the last five years. This new operational definition of epilepsy may change the epileptologist's approach regarding when and how long to treat patients with seizures. The new definition also has significant psychosocial and employment-related implications for the patients. With regard to etiology, the terms idiopathic, symptomatic, and cryptogenic have been replaced by genetic, structural/metabolic, and unknown. This reflects a better understanding of the underlying cause of epilepsy based on genetic tests and better neuroimaging. The terms 'simple partial' and 'complex partial' seizures have been replaced by 'focal motor/sensory' and 'focal dyscognitive' seizures, thereby ending the ambiguity associated with the former terms and the difficulty encountered with definitions of altered states of consciousness. These changes, reflective of a better insight into the pathogenesis of seizures and epilepsy, are expected to be more pragmatic and assist when managing patients with epilepsy.

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Epilepsy & Behavior

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41

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Clinical sciences

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