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Epilepsia. 2013 May;54 Suppl 2:9-12. doi: 10.1111/epi.12176.

Definition of drug-resistant epilepsy: is it evidence based?

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  • 1Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Clinical case definitions are the cornerstone of clinical communication and of clinical and epidemiologic research. The ramifications of establishing a case definition are extensive, including potentially large changes in epidemiologic estimates of frequency, and decisions for clinical management. Yet, defining a condition entails numerous challenges such as defining the scope and purpose, incorporating the strongest evidence base with clinical expertise, accounting for patients' values, and considering impact on care. The clinical case definition of drug-resistant epilepsy, in addition, must address what constitutes an adequate intervention for an individual drug, what are the outcomes of relevance, what period of observation is sufficient to determine success or failure, how many medications should be tried, whether seizure frequency should play a role, and what is the role of side effects and tolerability. On the other hand, the principles of evidence-based medicine (EBM) aim at providing a systematic approach to incorporating the best available evidence into the process of clinical decision for individual patients. The case definition of drug-resistant epilepsy proposed by the the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) in 2009 is evaluated in terms of the principles of EBM as well as the stated goals of the authors of the definition.

Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2013 International League Against Epilepsy.

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