Petit Mal Seizure
A petit mal seizure is the lay term for an absence seizure. It is called “petit mal” (“small illness” in French) to distinguish it from a grand mal (“big illness” in French) generalized tonic-clonic seizure. The term “petit mal” is actually a misnomer because absence seizures can occur with other seizure types in more debilitating disorders (e.g., Lennox-Gastaut syndrome). To further complicate classification, many patients will use the term “petit mal” when describing complex or simple partial seizures (focal seizures with or without retained awareness/responsiveness),1 myoclonic seizures, or other seizure types that are not as dramatic as the generalized tonic-clonic seizure that the public usually pictures as a seizure. It is more accurate to use the term to avoid ambiguity.
See chapter “Absence Seizure.”
References and Readings
- Berg, A. T., Berkovic, S. F., Brodie, M. J., Buchhalter, J., Cross, J. H., van Emde, B. W., Engel, J., French, J., Glauser, T. A., Mathern, G. W., Moshe, S. L., Nordli, D., Plouin, P., & Scheffer, I. E. (2010). Revised terminology and concepts for organization of seizures and epilepsies: Report of the ILAE commission on classification and terminology, 2005–2009. Epilepsia, 51(4), 676–685.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Wyllie, E. (Ed.). (2015). Wyllie’s treatment of epilepsy: Principles and practice (6th ed.). New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Google Scholar