Pathophysiology and definitions of seizures and status epilepticus

Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2011 Feb;29(1):1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.emc.2010.08.001.


The pathophysiology of seizures is multifactorial and incompletely understood. Experimental work demonstrates that prolonged, abnormal, and excessive neuronal electrical activity in itself is injurious through several mechanisms independent of systemic acidosis and hypoxia. Population survival studies and laboratory investigations support the idea that brain injury and epileptogenesis result from status epilepticus. The basic distinction in seizure types is that of generalized and partial seizures. Correct classification of seizure types will aid in clinical communications and guide correct therapies. Revised definitions of generalized convulsive status epilepticus suggest making this diagnosis with as few as 5 minutes of continuous seizure activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Seizures / classification*
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / physiopathology*
  • Status Epilepticus / diagnosis
  • Status Epilepticus / physiopathology*