What is an epilepsy syndrome?

26th July 2018

An epilepsy syndrome is defined as a group of signs and symptoms that usually occur together and provides information on the types of medication and treatment that will be more effective. The features of a syndrome can include things such the age that the seizures started, gender, the types of seizures, the part of the brain that’s affected and much more.

Diagnosing a syndrome can enable healthcare professionals to make more informed decisions and provide insight into what the future might be like for a person with epilepsy and the possibility of remission or worsening. Many healthcare professionals will use syndromes to describe a person’s epilepsy.  

Features of an epilepsy syndrome

As previously mentioned, there are a number of features that could be part of an epilepsy syndrome, including:

  • Types of seizures
  • Age at which the seizures start
  • The causes of seizures
  • If the seizures are hereditary
  • The part of the brain that’s affected
  • Triggers that provoke seizures
  • How severe the seizures are
  • How frequent the seizures are
  • Seizure patterns
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG patterns)

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Genetic information
  • Other disorders alongside seizures
  • Prognosis (outcome)

This is by no means an exhaustive list and there may be countless other factors taken into account, some more unique and rare than others. Many syndromes will be made up of a combination of factors from the above, but not all.

Diagnosing an epilepsy syndrome

If you have been diagnosed with epilepsy then it’s also likely your healthcare professional may consider the possibility of diagnosing a particular syndrome. The process of diagnosing an epilepsy syndrome can be complicated as many of the features overlap, which means it can take some time to determine an accurate diagnosis. This can be frustrating, but you can help by documenting your epilepsy as much as possible. This will provide your healthcare professional with more information with which to make a diagnosis.

The types of epilepsy syndrome

There are many different types of epilepsy syndrome, which we will be discussing in more detail in future posts, these include:

  • Aicardi syndrome
  • Angelman syndrome
  • Benign myoclonic epilepsy in infancy
  • Benign neonatal convulsions
  • Benign partial epilepsy in infancy
  • Benign rolandic epilepsy
  • Childhood absence epilepsy (CAE)
  • Dravet syndrome
  • Early myoclonic encephalopathy
  • Electrical status epilepticus during slow-wave sleep (ESESS)
  • Epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures
  • Epilepsy with myoclonic absences
  • Eyelid myoclonia with absences (EMA)
  • GLUT1 deficiency syndrome
  • Gelastic Epilepsy
  • Generalised epilepsy with febrile seizure plus (GEFS+)
  • Juvenile absence epilepsy
  • Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME)
  • Landau Kleffner Syndrome
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
  • Mitochondrial disorders
  • Myoclonic astatic epilepsy (Doose syndrome)
  • Ohtahara Syndrome
  • Panayiotopoulos syndrome
  • Rasmussen syndrome
  • Rett syndrome
  • Ring Chromosome 20
  • Self-limiting late-onset occipital epilepsy
  • Sturge-Weber syndrome
  • Unverricht-Lundborg syndrome
  • West syndrome (infantile spasms)

For more information on epilepsy syndromes, get in touch with National Epilepsy Training. Call us on 01706 373075 or email admin@nationalepilepsytraining.co.uk.