Department of Neurology

What are secondarily generalized seizures?

Q: Could you please explain the term secondary generalized seizures?


A: The term, generalization, refers to how the seizures seem to spread through the brain, and the distinction between primary and secondary generalization is based on electroencephalographic (EEG) patterns. In persons with primary generalized seizures, such as absence, the EEG pattern shows seizure abnormalities over the entire brain at the onset. Secondary generalized seizures are seizures that seem to start in a focal area on EEG and spread to the rest of the brain. It is important to make this distinction, because not all medications that work on primary generalized seizure will be effective for secondary generalized seizures, and vice versa.

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