Focal epilepsies and focal disorders

Handb Clin Neurol. 2019:161:17-43. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-64142-7.00039-4.


Electroencephalographic (EEG) investigations are crucial in the diagnosis and management of patients with focal epilepsies. EEG may reveal different interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs: abnormal spikes, sharp waves). The EEG visibility of a spike depends on the surface area of cortex involved (>10cm2) and the brain localization of cortical generators. Regions generating IEDs (defining the "irritative zone") are not necessarily equivalent to the seizure onset zone. Focal seizures are dynamic processes originating from one or several brain regions (that generate fast oscillations and are called the epileptogenic zone) before spreading to other structures (that generate lower frequency oscillations and are called the propagation zone). Several factors limit the expression of seizures on scalp EEG, such as the area involved, degree of synchronization, and depth of the cortical generators. Different scalp EEG seizure onset patterns may be observed: fast discharge, background flattening, rhythmic spikes, sinusoidal discharge, or sharp activity. However, to a large extent EEG changes are linked to seizure propagation. Finally, in the context of presurgical evaluation, the combination of interictal and ictal EEG features is crucial to provide an optimal hypothesis concerning the epileptogenic zone.

Keywords: EEG; Epilepsy; Epileptogenic zone; HFO; Network; SEEG; Seizure; Spike; Video-EEG.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsies, Partial*
  • Humans