Becoming familiar with the ‘language of epilepsy’ is important. There are many words, terms, and abbreviations used when it comes to epilepsy. Here you can find a list of some of those relevant terms.
(Also know as “dialeptic seizure” or “petit mal seizure”) A seizure that causes a brief loss of awareness. During an absence seizure, the patient stops any activity and stares blankly. Rarely, there may be some blinking.
Antiseizure Drug (ASD):
Also called an anticonvulsant an antiepileptic drug used to control both convulsive and nonconvulsive seizures.
A seizure that causes a sudden loss of muscle tone, particularly in the arms and legs, and often causes the patient to fall.
A warning or initial symptom at the beginning of a seizure, experienced by the patient, but not visible to observers. Auras may progress to become focal or even generalized seizures, or they may exist alone.
Take medicine “ante cibum” (before food).
Ambulatory Electroencephalography (aEEG) Monitoring:
An EEG that is recorded at home, and it can record up to 72 hours
Bilateral Tonic Clonic Seizure:
Formerly called grand-mal seizures, an older term for a seizure in which the patient loses consciousness and collapses. The patient also has body stiffening and violent jerking, and then often goes into a deep sleep. Also known as a generalized convulsion.
Take medicine “bis die” (twice daily).
Repetitive, rhythmic jerks that involve all or part of the body.
The tendency for people with epilepsy to experience seizures around the time of menstruation.
A band of nerve fibers located deep in the brain that connects the two halves (hemispheres) of the brain. The corpus callosum helps the hemispheres share information.
Medical research involving people. There are observational studies and clinical trials.
A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people.
Medical conditions/diseases accompanying another. Two or more diseases or medical conditions in a person.
A sudden fall without loss of consciousness, categorized as tonic or atonic seizures when part of epilepsy.
The process of adjusting the dose of a medication for the maximum benefit without adverse effects.
A diagnosis is the identification of the nature of an illness by examining a persons’ symptoms. “Diagnoses” is the plural – so a person may have several diagnoses.
Continuous simultaneous recording of brainwaves and video observation of the behavior accompanying the EEG. This technique, carried out at comprehensive epilepsy centers, is employed to diagnose epilepsy and localize the seizure focus. The results are useful to determine therapy — medical or surgical.
A chronic medical condition marked by recurrent epileptic seizures. Patients may have single seizures as a result of fever, drug withdrawal, or trauma, for example, but are not labeled as having epilepsy if seizures do not recur.
The region of the brain responsible for the abnormal electrical signals that cause seizures.
A conductive disk (usually metal) attached to the scalp which conveys the electrical activity of the brain through a wire to an EEG machine. During an electroencephalogram, typically around 20 electrodes are temporarily pasted to the scalp.
A diagnostic test that measures brain waves, the electrical impulses in the cerebral cortex. This test helps a doctor to diagnose epilepsy.
A neuro-surgical procedure to prevent further seizures, usually accomplished by resecting the epileptogenic zone. Successful in eliminating seizures in a large majority of patients, depending on the type of epilepsy identified during EEG-video monitoring.
Extratemporal Cortical Resection:
An operation to cut out (resect) brain tissue that contains a seizure focus. “Extratemporal” means the tissue is located in an area of the brain other than the temporal lobe, most often the frontal lobe.
Focal Onset Aware Seizure:
(also known as a “partial seizure”) – A seizure that occurs in a limited area in only one hemisphere of the brain. This type of seizure is more amenable to treatment with surgery than are generalized seizures.
Focal Onset Impaired Awareness Seizure:
Formerly called complex partial seizures are seizures that include impairment of awareness, for example, patients seem to be “out of it” or “staring into space.” Unintentional movements or other movements are frequently a part of the seizure.
A procedure in which portions of one hemisphere of the brain which is not functioning normally are removed, and the corpus callosum is split. This interrupts the communications among the various lobes and between the two hemispheres and prevents the spread of seizures.
Tonic-clonic seizures that are known to occur in young children and infants as a result of fevers.
A seizure that occurs all through the brain.
Hippocampus is a complex brain structure embedded deep into the temporal lobe. It has a major role in learning and memory.
The middle (ictal) stage of a seizure is called the “ictal phase”. It’s the time from the first symptom to the end of the seizure activity.
One half of the cerebrum, the largest part of the brain.
Uncontrolled seizures that cannot be controlled with AEDs (Anti-Epileptic Drugs). Other terms used are: refractory and drug-resistant.
A treatment for epilepsy intended to maintain the starvation or fasting metabolism for a long period in order to create ketones, byproducts of fat-burning metabolism. Seizures often lessen or disappear during periods of fasting. The diet is very high in fat and low in carbohydrates and is most often recommended for children ages 2 through 12 who have been diagnosed with a generalized type of epilepsy, and who have failed to respond to a variety of medications.
Surgery to remove isolated brain lesions that are responsible for seizure activity.
One of the sections of the cerebrum, the largest part of the brain. The lobes are divided into four paired sections (frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal). The seizure focus is usually located in one of the lobes.
The removal of an entire lobe of the brain. Temporal lobectomy is the most common type of surgery for temporal lobe epilepsy and frontal lobectomy is the second.
A diagnostic procedure in which the fluid surrounding the spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid) is withdrawn through a needle and examined in a lab. Also known as a spinal tap.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):
A type of brain scan which looks at the structure of the brain.
Multiple Subpial Transection:
A surgical procedure to help control seizures that begin in areas of the brain that cannot be safely removed (areas that control movements or speech). The surgeon makes a series of shallow cuts (transections) in the brain tissue to interrupt the movement of seizure impulses.
A seizure that consists of sporadic jerks, usually on both sides of the body. Patients with these seizures may drop or involuntarily throw objects.
Provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Medicaid is administered by states, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government.
A federal health insurance program for qualifying individuals, including people age 65 and older, and those with certain disabilities.
A neurologist is a medical doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system.
A branch of medicine concerned especially with the structure, function, and diseases of the nervous system.
Neurosurgeons diagnose, assess and perform surgery to treat disorders of the nervous system, including epilepsy.
A single nerve cell. The brain is made up of billions of neurons. Many neurons malfunctioning together are necessary to produce a seizure.
An event that resembles a seizure but is actually produced by another condition, such as Tourette syndrome or heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias). Certain psychological conditions can also bring on a nonepileptic event.
A seizure that occurs at night during sleep.
Take medicine “omni die” (every day).
Take medicine “omni mane” (every morning).
Take medicine “omni nocte” (every night).
Take medicine “post cibum” (after food)
Take medicine “pro re nata” (when required)
The time before a seizure.
The time after a person has had a seizure.
Take medicine “quater die sumendum” (to be taken four times daily).
Take medicine “quarta quaque hora” (every four hours).
Responsive Neurostimulation Device:
RNS consists of a small neurostimulator implanted within the skull under the scalp. The neurostimulator is connected to one or two wires (called electrodes) that are placed where the seizures are suspected to originate within the brain or on the surface of the brain. The device detects abnormal electrical activity in the area and delivers electrical stimulation to normalize brain activity before seizure symptoms begin.
When the underlying cause of epilepsy impacts fewer than 200,000 people in the world, it is considered to be a rare epilepsy.
An event of altered brain function caused by abnormal or excessive electrical discharges in the brain. Most seizures cause sudden changes in behavior or motor function.
The area of the brain in which a seizure starts.
Status Epilepticus (SUDEP):
A prolonged seizure (usually defined as lasting longer than 5 minutes) or a series of repeated seizures without regaining consciousness. Status epilepticus is a medical emergency and medical help should be obtained immediately.
Temporal Lobe Resection:
A surgical procedure in which brain tissue in the temporal lobe is cut away (resected) to remove the seizure focus.
A seizure that is characterized by stiffening of the muscles, sustained for more than a few seconds.
A seizure marked by loss of consciousness, falling, stiffening, and jerking. This is the hallmark of a generalized motor seizure, which used to be called a “grand mal seizure.”
Take medicine “ter die sumendum” (to be taken three times daily).
Take medicine “ter in die” (three times daily).
Sometimes called telemedicine — lets your health care provider provide care for you without an in-person office visit.
A small cranial nerve that passes through the neck and is connected to various areas of the brain and other organs in the body, including the stomach, heart, and lungs.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation:
A surgical treatment for epilepsy involving implantation in the neck of an electrode on the vagus nerve. The electrode is connected to a pacemaker that is placed under the skin in the chest. While the VNS is usually programmed to cycle continuously, the patient can turn the stimulator on, using a small magnet placed over the pacemaker, if they feel a seizure coming on.