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ABSTRACT: Uncomplicated seizures and epilepsy are common in infants and children. Family physicians should be aware of certain epilepsy syndromes that occur in children, such as febrile seizures, benign focal epilepsy of childhood, complex partial epilepsy, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy and video game-related epilepsy. Not all uncomplicated childhood seizures require neuroimaging or treatment. Febrile seizures, rolandic seizures and video game-related seizures are childhood epileptic syndromes that are typically not associated with brain structural lesions on computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, and are often not treated with anticonvulsant drugs. Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy does not require neuroimaging but does require treatment because of a high rate of recurrent seizures. Complex partial epilepsy often requires both neuroimaging and treatment. Although seizures are diagnosed primarily on clinical grounds, all children with a possible seizure (except febrile seizures) should have an electroencephalogram. Interictal EEGs may be normal. Computed tomography has demonstrated abnormalities in 7 to 19 percent of children with new-onset seizures. The yield of magnetic resonance imaging for specific childhood seizure types is not known, but it is the preferred modality of neuroimaging for many clinical presentations. Most children's seizures treated with anticonvulsants are controlled by the first drug selected. The value of "therapeutic' serum drug levels is questionable in the management of uncomplicated childhood seizures.
Advances in the Treatment of Epilepsy - Article
ABSTRACT: Significant advances have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy over the past decade. With the advent of electroencephalographic video monitoring, physicians are now able to reliably differentiate epilepsy from other conditions that can mimic it, such as pseudoseizures. In addition, neuroimaging has changed the way treatment for difficult epilepsy is approached. As a result, the classification systems that have been in use since the early 1980s are currently being revised. A broader range of treatment options for epilepsy is now available. Many new antiepileptic drugs have become available in recent years, including felbamate, gabapentin, lamotrigine, topiramate, tiagabine, levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine and zonisamide. These medications offer options for patients with epilepsy whose seizures cannot be controlled using the classic agents. Several classic antiepileptic drugs have been modified and reformulated. The ketogenic diet has resurfaced as a treatment option in certain types of epilepsy. The vagus nerve stimulator, approved in 1997, represents a completely new treatment modality for patients with seizures not controlled by medications. Epilepsy surgery is now a well-documented and effective treatment for some patients with intractable epilepsy.
Seizure Disorders in the Elderly - Article
ABSTRACT: Seizure disorders become increasingly common after the age of 60 years and can have a significant impact on functional status. The goal of antiepileptic drug therapy is to control seizures but preserve quality of life. If possible, seizure control should be achieved with one agent given in the lowest effective dosage. Clinical response, rather than drug levels, should guide dosage changes. All antiepileptic drugs can cause dose-dependent sedation and cognitive impairment. Although the newer agents may have theoretical advantages over standard antiepileptic agents, higher cost may limit their use. Drugs for first-line monotherapy of seizures in elderly patients include carbamazepine, valproic acid, oxcarbazepine, gabapentin, and lamotrigine.
Epilepsy in Women - Article
ABSTRACT: Epilepsy in women raises special reproductive and general health concerns. Seizure frequency and severity may change at puberty, over the menstrual cycle, with pregnancy, and at menopause. Estrogen is known to increase the risk of seizures, while progesterone has an inhibitory effect. Many antiepileptic drugs induce liver enzymes and decrease oral contraceptive efficacy. Women with epilepsy also have lower fertility rates and are more likely to have anovulatory menstrual cycles, polycystic ovaries, and sexual dysfunction. Irregular menstrual cycles, hirsutism, acne, and obesity should prompt an evaluation for reproductive dysfunction. Children who are born to women with epilepsy are at greater risk of birth defects, in part related to maternal use of antiepileptic drugs. This risk is reduced by using a single antiepileptic drug at the lowest effective dose and by providing preconceptional folic acid supplementation. Breastfeeding is generally thought to be safe for women using antiepileptic medications.
Management of Seizures and Epilepsy - Article
ABSTRACT: While the evaluation and treatment of patients with seizures or epilepsy is often challenging, modern therapy provides many patients with complete seizure control. After a first seizure, evaluation should focus on excluding an underlying neurologic or medical condition, assessing the relative risk of seizure recurrence and determining whether treatment is indicated. Successful management of patients with recurrent seizures begins with the establishment of an accurate diagnosis of epilepsy syndrome followed by treatment using an appropriate medication in a manner that optimizes efficacy. The goal of therapy is to completely control seizures without producing unacceptable medication side effects. Patients who do not achieve complete seizure control should be referred to an epilepsy specialist, since new medications and surgical treatments offer patients unprecedented options in seizure control.
Usefulness of Measuring Antiepileptic Medication Blood Levels in Patients with Epilepsy - Cochrane for Clinicians
New Guidelines Offer Recommendations for Women with Epilepsy - Special Medical Reports
Neurologic Group Develops Recommendations for Management of Epilepsy - Special Medical Reports