Seizures, semiology, and syndromes: A narrative review

Seizure. 2021 Nov:92:230-233. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2021.09.019. Epub 2021 Sep 27.


Clinical seizure signs continue to be of central importance to guide diagnosis, classification, treatment and prognosis. Some basic principles guide history-taking and observation in clinical epileptology. The information contained within subjective seizure descriptions can be framed within standardized vocabulary and a classification of ictal signs, seizure types, and the integrated framework of epilepsy syndromes. As illustrative examples, we discuss the historical origins and current research context of Dravet syndrome and Janz syndrome, two genetic epilepsy syndromes. In candidates for epilepsy surgery, ictal signs aid us in identifying the symptomatogenic zone and hence delineating the ictal onset zone. Here, historical reports from Victor Horsley and Hughlings Jackson provide valuable perspective on clinical reasoning. Lastly, the information contained within clinical signs and syndromes presents an indispensable data source in future efforts of large-scale genotype-phenotype correlations and machine learning methods.

Keywords: Epilepsy syndrome; Medical history; Semiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electroencephalography*
  • Humans
  • Myoclonic Epilepsy, Juvenile*
  • Prognosis
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Syndrome