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Partial (focal) seizure

Definition

All seizures are caused by abnormal electrical disturbances in the brain. Partial (focal) seizures occur when this electrical activity remains in a limited area of the brain. The seizures can sometimes turn into generalized seizures , which affect the whole brain. This is called secondary generalization.

Partial seizures can be further characterized as:

  • Simple -- not affecting awareness or memory
  • Complex -- affecting awareness or memory of events before, during, and immediately after the seizure, and affecting behavior

Alternative Names

Focal seizure; Jacksonian seizure; Seizure - partial (focal); Temporal lobe seizure

Symptoms

Patients with focal seizures can have any of the symptoms below, depending on where in the brain the seizure starts.

Patients with simple focal seizures do not lose consciousness. They will be aware of and remember the events that occur at the time.

Patients with complex partial seizures may or may not remember any or all of the symptoms or events during the seizure.

Symptoms can include:

Other symptoms include:

References

Abou-Khalil BW, Gallagher MJ, Macdonald RL. Epilepsies. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 67.

Encyclopedia content is provided as information only and not intended to replace the advice and instruction from your personal physician.