Diagnosing seizures and the type of epilepsy is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together and includes information from many people and different tests.


The first question is to find out if the person had a seizure, then the doctor will want to know the type of seizure or epilepsy syndrome that best explains the event. To do this, more information will be needed, including details of the medical history, blood tests, EEG tests, and brain imaging tests such as CT and MRI scans. This gives information about the electrical activity of the brain, what the brain looks like and possible causes of seizures. This information is put together with how the individual is feeling and how the seizures may be affecting the way the brain works.

  • This section takes you through each step in the diagnostic process.
  • The timing of each step will depend on what is going on with each person.
  • Sometimes tests will be repeated and give more accurate information at another time.
  • As new information is obtained, the initial diagnosis may be changed too.
  • It's important to keep in touch with your doctors and health care team and let them know if new problems arise and if your seizures are not responding to treatment. If so, it's time to take another look!


Authored By: 
Steven C. Schachter, MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Reviewed By: 
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Thursday, August 22, 2013