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Flashcards in EPILEPSY AND SEIZURES Deck (70)
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1

What is epilepsy?

A condition where there is a propensity to have recurrent and unprovoked seizures.

2

What is an epileptic seizure?

A paroxysmal, synchronous and excessive discharge of neurons in the cerebral cortex manisfesting as a stereotyped disturbance of consciousness, behaviour, emotion, motor function or sensation. It is usually sudden in onset, lasts seconds to minutes and usually ceases spontaneously.

3

What is status epilecticus?

A state of continued or recurrent seizures, with failure to regain consciousness between seizures over 30 minutes. It is a medical emergency and has a mortality rate of 50%.

4

What is prodrome with regard to epilepsy?

Changes in mood or behaviour which come before a seizure. They may precede the attack by several hours.

5

What is aura with regard to epilepsy?

Subjective sensation or phenomenon which may precede and mark the onset of the seizure. It can localise the seizure within the brain if being monitored at the time.

6

What is the ictus with regard to epilepsy?

The attack or seizure itself.

7

What is the postictal period?

The time after the ictus (seizure) during which the patient may be drowsy, confused and disorientated.

8

In terms of epidemiology of epilepsy, when are the two age peaks in the incidence of grand mal seizures?

In children and adolescents, where there is often no cause found.
Then in patients in their fifties and sixties, where the disease is probably due to ischaemic changes as a result of hypertension.

9

What are the known causes and risk factors for epilepsy or epileptic seizures?

Alcohol abuse
Vascular disease (such as stroke)
Cerebral tumours
Head injury
Degenerative diseases
Family history (especially in absence seizures)
Antenatal factors (such as rubella infections, maternal drug abuse and irradiation)
Perinatal factors (such as anoxia)
Drugs
Photosensitivity
Sleep deprivation

10

Which medications are known to either cause epilepsy or increase the likelihood of experiencing a seizure?

Phenothiazines
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
Tricyclic antidepressants
Amphetamines
Lidocaine and lignocaine
Nalidixic acid
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines

11

Which toxic agents are known to either cause epilepsy or increase the likelihood of experiencing seizures?

Alcohol
Carbon monoxide
Lead
Mercury

12

Other than epilepsy, what might cause seizures in a patient?

Metabolic causes:
Hyponatraemia
Hypernatraemia
Hypocalcaemia
Hypomagnesaemia
Hypoglycaemia

Infectious and inflammatory causes:
Encephalitis
Meningitis
Cerebral abscess
Neurosyphilis

13

What is a partial seizure?

A seizure that arises from a localised area of cerebral cortex.

14

Where do most partial seizures arise from?

The temporal lobes

15

Where do partial seizure that do not arise from the temporal lobes most often arise from?

The frontal lobes

16

What are the features of the aura associated with a temporal lobe seizure?

Epigastric sensation
Olfactory or gustatory hallucinations
Autonomic symptoms (eg change in pulse or BP, facial flushing)
Affective symptoms (eg fear, depersonalization)
Deja vu

17

What are the clinical features of a seizure that originates in either temporal lobe?

Motor arrest
Absence
Automatism (eg lip smacking, chewing, fidgeting, walking)
Automatic speech
Contralateral dystonia
The seizure is slow to evolve (1-2 minutes)

18

What are the postictal features of a temporal lobe seizure?

Confusion
Postictal dysphasia (if dominant hemisphere is affected)

19

What are the features of the aura associated with frontal lobe seizures?

Abrupt onset
Forced thinking
Ideational or emotional manisfestations

20

What are the clinical features of a seizure that originates in either frontal lobe?

Vocalisation / shrill cry
Violent or bizarre automatism
Cycling movements of the legs
Ictal posturing
Tonic spasms
Head and eyes move away from affected side
'Fencing' posture - Extension and abduction of one arm with rotation of head to same side, whilst flexing other arm
Sexual automatisms with pelvic thrusting
Obscene gestures
Genital manipulation
Usually very brief (30 seconds)

21

What are the postictal features of a frontal lobe seizure?

Brief confusion
Rapid recovery

22

What are clinical features of a seizure that originates in either parietal lobe?

Somatosensory symptoms (eg pain, tingling, numbness, prickling, vertigo, distortions of space)
Automatisms may occur

23

What are the clinical features of a seizure that originates in either occipital lobe?

Visual hallucinations (eg seeing flashes of light or geometrical figures; rarely complex hallucinations of figures)
Eyelids flutter
Automatisms

24

What is a simple partial seizure?

Seizures in which consciousness is not impaired, and in which the discharge remains localised. They are brief and involve focal symptoms.

25

What is a complex partial seizure?

Similar features to simple partial seizures but by definition consciousness is impaired. Patient often remains standing despite losing consciousness. They typically last 2-3 minutes but can continue for several hours as part of non-convulsive status epilepticus.

26

What is a secondary generalised seizure?

Partial seizure in which epileptic discharge spreads to both cerebral hemispheres resulting in a generalised seizure. The spread may be so rapid that no localised features are detected.

27

What is a generalised seizure?

Seizure involving both hemispheres at the onset of the seizure. Patients lose consciousness at onset, so there is often no warning.

28

What is a generalised tonic-clonic seizure?

A generalised seizure where there are two distinct phases once the patient has lost consciousness. The tonic phase and the clonic phase.

29

What happens in the tonic phase of a generalised tonic-clonic seizure?

The tonic phase lasts about 10 seconds and involves stiffening of the body, flexion of the elbows and extension of the legs. The patient will also stop breathing and may turn cyanotic.

30

What happens in the clonic phase of a generalised tonic-clonic seizure?

The clonic phase last about 1-2 minutes and involves violent generalised rhythmical shaking. The patients eyes will be open and will roll back, the tongue may be bitten. Tachycardia is common, as is fecal and urinary incontinence. The frequency of the clonic movements will gradually decrease.