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Focal Epilepsy - Topic Overview

Epilepsy that causes partial seizures is sometimes called focal epilepsy, because the seizures start at a specific focus or location within the brain. In people with this type of disorder, the electrical charges that cause seizures begin in a specific area in the brain, although more of the brain may become affected during the seizure.

Epilepsy that causes partial seizures is the most common type of epilepsy in adults. The seizures do not always have a known cause. But they often result from severe head injury, stroke, brain tumor, brain infections, scar tissue, and other diseases that affect the brain.

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Affecting about two of every 1,000 people, absence seizures (formerly called ''petit mal'' seizures) are caused by abnormal and intense electrical activity in the brain. Normally, the brain's nerve cells (neurons) communicate with one another by firing tiny electric signals. But with a seizure, these signals become abnormal. Seizures may affect an isolated part of the brain or may involve abnormal activity in the whole brain (called generalized seizures). Absence seizures are one form of generalized...

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These same conditions may also cause partial seizures in children. But the cause of partial seizures in children is more often unknown (idiopathic). These seizures are often a form of benign focal childhood epilepsy, which has no known cause.

Drug therapy is the usual treatment for partial seizures for both adults and children. Surgery that removes the affected area of the brain is also an option for some people who have partial seizures.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 26, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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