Recognition and classification of seizures in infants

Douglas R. Nordli*, Carl W. Bazil, Mark L. Scheuer, Timothy A. Pedley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Purpose: We wished to assess the reliability of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) seizure classification system applied to infantile seizures and to test a proposed new classification. Methods: We first analyzed 39 seizures in 20 infants (aged 1-26 months) recorded with simultaneous closed-circuit television and EEG (CCTV/EEG). EEGs and videotapes of all seizures were independently analyzed by two epileptologists blinded to clinical histories. Videotapes of each seizure were reviewed without simultaneous EEG (phase I), and printouts of ictal EEGs were assessed without behavioral correlates (phase II). The observers classified seizures according to ILAE criteria. Interrater agreement was assessed by the kappa statistic. Results: Agreement on EEG features (phase II) was moderate (= 0.54) in identifying focal ictal onsets and substantial (= 0.79) in identifying generalized onsets. In contrast, analysis of videotapes showed substantial disagreement between observers in terms of classifying seizures as partial or generalized. Therefore, agreement between observers for partial was slight (= 0.14) and fair for generalized seizures (= 0.26). Similarly, conclusions of the observers as compared with those of a consensus panel were divergent for both partial (= 0.18) and generalized seizures (= 0.30). We therefore developed an alternative classification scheme and retested interrater agreement in a review of 50 seizures in 25 other infants. With this classification scheme, there was substantial agreement between observers (= 0.72). Conclusions: With clinical observations and interictal EEGs, seizures in infants cannot be reliably classified by current ILAE criteria. In contrast, a proposed new classification scheme based solely on semiology showed substantial reliability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-560
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997


  • Classification
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Epilepsy
  • Infancy
  • Infantile seizures
  • Video-EEG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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