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A brief history of typical absence seizures - Petit mal revisited.
Brigo, F; Trinka, E; Lattanzi, S; Bragazzi, NL; Nardone, R; Martini, M
EPILEPSY BEHAV. 2018; 80: 346-353.


Nardone Raffaele
Trinka Eugen


In this article, we have traced back the history of typical absence seizures, from their initial clinical description to the more recent nosological position. The first description of absence seizures was made by Poupart in 1705 and Tissot in 1770. In 1824, Calmeil introduced the term "absences", and in 1838, Esquirol for the first time used the term petit mal. Reynolds instead used the term "epilepsia mitior" (milder epilepsy) and provided a comprehensive description of absence seizures (1861). In 1854, Delasiauve ranked absences as the seizure type with lower severity and introduced the concept of idiopathic epilepsy. Otto Binswanger (1899) discussed the role of cortex in the pathophysiology of "abortive seizures", whereas William Gowers (1901) emphasized the importance of a detailed clinical history to identify nonmotor seizures or very mild motor phenomena which otherwise may go unnoticed or considered not epileptic. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the term pyknolepsy was introduced, but initially was not universally considered as a type of epilepsy; it was definitely recognized as an epileptic entity only in 1945, based on electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings. Hans Berger, the inventor of the EEG, made also the first EEG recording of an atypical absence (his results were published only in 1933), whereas the characteristic EEG pattern was reported by neurophysiologists of the Harvard Medical School in 1935. The discovery of EEG made it also possible to differentiate absence seizures from so called "psychomotor" seizures occurring in temporal lobe epilepsy. Penfield and Jasper (1938) considered absences as expression of "centrencephalic epilepsy". Typical absences seizures are now classified by the International League Against Epilepsy among generalized nonmotor (absence) seizures.

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)

Absence seizures
Petit mal