Prediction of epileptic seizures

Lancet Neurol. 2002 May;1(1):22-30. doi: 10.1016/s1474-4422(02)00003-0.


For almost 40 years, neuroscientists thought that epileptic seizures began abruptly, just a few seconds before clinical attacks. There is now mounting evidence that seizures develop minutes to hours before clinical onset. This change in thinking is based on quantitative studies of long digital intracranial electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings from patients being evaluated for epilepsy surgery. Evidence that seizures can be predicted is spread over diverse sources in medical, engineering, and patent publications. Techniques used to forecast seizures include frequency-based methods, statistical analysis of EEG signals, non-linear dynamics (chaos), and intelligent engineered systems. Advances in seizure prediction promise to give rise to implantable devices able to warn of impending seizures and to trigger therapy to prevent clinical epileptic attacks. Treatments such as electrical stimulation or focal drug infusion could be given on demand and might eliminate side-effects in some patients taking antiepileptic drugs long term. Whether closed-loop seizure-prediction and treatment devices will have the profound clinical effect of their cardiological predecessors will depend on our ability to perfect these techniques. Their clinical efficacy must be validated in large-scale, prospective, controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Electroencephalography / trends
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests