Doctors and patients should be able to make more informed decisions about epilepsy treatment, thanks to a new seizure classification system developed by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).
Three scientific articles about the system have been published back to back in the journal Epilepsia. They are titled “Operational Classification of Seizure Types by the International League Against Epilepsy:Position Paper of the ILAE Commission for Classification and Terminology;” “ILAE classification of the epilepsies: Position paper of the ILAE Commission for Classification and Terminology;”and “Instruction Manual for the ILAE 2017 Operational Classification of Seizure Types.”
The previous epilepsy classification system was published nearly 30 years ago and did not cover many types of seizures.
“There are many more avenues for epilepsy diagnosis and therapy than there were when the classification was constructed in the 1980s,” Dr. Robert Fisher, the director of the Stanford Epilepsy Center and lead author of two of the studies, said in a press release. ”Applying the right therapy often depends upon knowing the precise type of seizure.”
Fisher said the old classification system had seizure names that were difficult for patients to understand. Scientists hope the new system will help patients and their families better understand the names of seizures. “A ‘focal aware seizure’ is more understandable than is the old term ‘simple partial seizure,’” Fisher said.
The new system covers the entire clinical picture of epilepsy. It provides information about the potential causes of different types of seizures, information that could lead to advances in treatment research and development.
“The new classification will help clinicians to think more deeply about each patient so that they can improve their care with optimized treatment and understanding of their disease,” said Professor Ingrid Scheffer, the first article of one of the articles. “It will also be used for research into the epilepsies and to frame collaborative approaches that will lead to greater insights into this important group of diseases,” added Sheffer, a pediatric nephrologist and professor at the University of Melbourne.
The ILAE is an association of physicians and other health professionals working to advance and disseminate knowledge about epilepsy. Key organization goals are to promote research, education, and training in epilepsy, and improve services and care for epilepsy patients.