Please be patient! It may take up to ONE minute to load all the Engines.
Problems? Please contact our support.
Petit mal seizure
Alternative namesSeizure - petit mal; Absence seizure; Seizure - absence
DefinitionA petit mal seizure is a temporary disturbance of brain function caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain and characterized by abrupt, short-term lack of conscious activity ("absence") or other abnormal change in behavior.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Petit mal seizures occur most commonly in people under age 20, usually in children ages 6 to 12. They may occur in combination with other types of seizures .
The child may stop talking in mid-sentence or cease walking. One to several seconds later, speech or activity resume. If standing or walking, a child seldom falls during one of these episodes.
"Spells" can be infrequent or very frequent, occurring many times per hour. Up to hundreds of seizures can occur in a single day. They may occur for weeks to months before they are noticed. They can interfere with school function and learning. Teachers may interpret these seizures as lack of attention or other misbehavior.
Causes may be unidentifiable, or identified as congenital brain abnormalities, complications of kidney or liver disease , or brain injuries from trauma or birth complications. Sometimes, a family history of seizures indicates a hereditary type of seizures.
Signs and tests
The physical examination is usually normal, although some neurologic abnormalities may be present in some patients.
Various laboratory tests, a head CT scan , or a head MRI may be used to rule out specific causes of the seizures.
As seizures can interfere with learning or result in injury, the goal of treatment is to prevent or minimize the number of seizures and to minimize any side effects of the treatments. In some cases, treatment of identifiable causes may reduce or eliminate seizures.
Absence status epilepticus (multiple, frequently-repeated seizures) may be treated with intravenous medications and other treatments, as is done for status epilepticus with a generalized tonic-clonic seizure .
A resource you may find helpful is the
Almost all children with petit mal seizures have significantly fewer (or no) seizures with the use of medications. Petit mal seizures may stop spontaneously after the child reaches adulthood, they may continue indefinitely, or the person may progress to a grand mal seizure .
Long-term prognosis depends on whether there are any underlying neurological problems or other seizure types in addition to the petit mal seizures.
Most people with petit mal seizures live a fairly normal life, with few restrictions on school activities or social life. As adulthood approaches, restrictions may be placed on driving or operating dangerous machinery if seizures continue.
Calling your health care provider
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if a seizure lasts longer than 2 to 3 minutes or if there is no history of previous seizures. This is an emergency situation.
This may be an emergency situation.
Update Date: 7/29/2002Joseph V. Campellone, M.D., Division of Neurology, Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT