This review discusses the updated classifications of seizures and the epilepsies, which were recently published by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). While it is always a challenge to learn a new classification system, particularly one that has remained essentially unchanged for over three decades, these new classifications allow for the inclusion of some previously unclassifiable seizure types and utilize more intuitive terminology. In this review, we specifically discuss the use of these new classifications for patients, clinicians, and researchers.
Classifications for seizures and epilepsy were previously constructed in 1981(ILAE, 1981), 1985 (ILAE, 1985) and 1989 (ILAE, 1989). Having seizure and epilepsy classifications are exceedingly important for the clinicians and care teams, patients and families, and researchers. From a patient standpoint, it provides a namable diagnosis/etiology and improves understanding. For clinicians and the patient’s care team, these classifications enhance communication and discussion. From a research standpoint, having these classifications enables investigation of drug or surgical treatments, responses, and typical clinical courses for different types of seizures and epilepsy.
These new classifications will provide a framework to improve our understanding of seizure and epilepsy diagnoses for patients, clinicians, and researchers. While significant debate led to the consensus that resulted in the updated operational classifications, it will take the adoption and regular use of these new classifications by clinicians and epileptologists to produce the potential benefits described above.