Send to

Choose Destination
Epilepsia. 2017 Apr;58(4):522-530. doi: 10.1111/epi.13670. Epub 2017 Mar 8.

Operational classification of seizure types by the International League Against Epilepsy: Position Paper of the ILAE Commission for Classification and Terminology.

Author information

Stanford Department of Neurology & Neurological Sciences, Stanford, California, U.S.A.
UCL-Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, United Kingdom.
Department of Neurology, NYU Langone School of Medicine, New York, New York, U.S.A.
Department of Pediatrics, Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.
Unite Francis Rohmer, Strasbourg, France.
Department of Pediatric Neurology, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Pediatric Neurology, University Hospitals KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology, Department of Pediatrics and Dominick P. Purpura Department Neuroscience, Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York, U.S.A.
Department of Neurology, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland.
Pediatric Neurology and Rehabilitation Unit, CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Florey Institute and University of Melbourne, Austin Health and Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
The Paediatric Neurosciences Research Group, Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow, United Kingdom.
College of Medicine, Veterinary & Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom.


The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) presents a revised operational classification of seizure types. The purpose of such a revision is to recognize that some seizure types can have either a focal or generalized onset, to allow classification when the onset is unobserved, to include some missing seizure types, and to adopt more transparent names. Because current knowledge is insufficient to form a scientifically based classification, the 2017 Classification is operational (practical) and based on the 1981 Classification, extended in 2010. Changes include the following: (1) "partial" becomes "focal"; (2) awareness is used as a classifier of focal seizures; (3) the terms dyscognitive, simple partial, complex partial, psychic, and secondarily generalized are eliminated; (4) new focal seizure types include automatisms, behavior arrest, hyperkinetic, autonomic, cognitive, and emotional; (5) atonic, clonic, epileptic spasms, myoclonic, and tonic seizures can be of either focal or generalized onset; (6) focal to bilateral tonic-clonic seizure replaces secondarily generalized seizure; (7) new generalized seizure types are absence with eyelid myoclonia, myoclonic absence, myoclonic-atonic, myoclonic-tonic-clonic; and (8) seizures of unknown onset may have features that can still be classified. The new classification does not represent a fundamental change, but allows greater flexibility and transparency in naming seizure types.


Classification; Epilepsy; Focal; Generalized; Seizures; Taxonomy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center