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Epileptic Disord. 2005 Dec;7(4):308-16.

A proposal for a five-dimensional patient-oriented epilepsy classification.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


The recent proposal by the ILAE Task Force for Epilepsy Classification consists of a multi-axial syndrome-oriented approach. Epilepsy syndromes, as defined by the ILAE, group patients according to various, poorly defined parameters. The resulting syndromes have frequently no biological significance, with overlap among different syndromes and syndromes changing with age. Additionally, only a minority of patients can be classified syndromatically, and the axes of this classification system convey redundant information. We propose a five-dimensional, patient-oriented approach to classifying epilepsies. This approach shifts from the syndrome-oriented approach to a standard, neurological, methodological, patient-oriented approach, using independent criteria in each of the five dimensions. Similar to general neurology, the first step in each patient-physician encounter in epileptology is to take a history of the presenting symptoms and generate a hypothesis regarding the localization and etiology of the symptom within the nervous system. Therefore, the main dimensions of this classification consist of: 1) localization of the epileptogenic zone, 2) seizure semiology classified according to the semiological seizure classification, 3) etiology, 4) seizure frequency, and 5) related medical conditions. These dimensions characterize all of the information necessary for patient management, are independent parameters, and include more pertinent information with regards to patient management than the ILAE axes. All patients can be classified according to this five-dimensional system even at the initial patient encounter when no detailed test results are available. Information from clinical tests, such as MRI and EEG, are translated into the best possible working hypothesis at the time of classification, allowing for increasing precision of the classification as additional information becomes available. This patient-oriented classification envisions an epileptic seizure as an independent symptom of a central nervous system dysfunction due to different causes, with various cortical localizations, occurring at various frequencies, and in conjunction with other diseases and clinical symptoms.

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