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The TS Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s has compiled the following glossary of terms you may hear during your or your child’s treatment. We want you to be informed about the condition and treatment, so please ask a member of our care team if you have questions about terms or phrases related to TS.
Absence seizuresFrequent, brief events (5-30 seconds) with abrupt onset, impairment of consciousness and staring followed by an abrupt return to baseline function. If a person is speaking when the absence seizure occurs, he or she will stop talking, stare and, when the brief seizure is over, resume the sentence as if nothing had occurred. The person usually does not even recognize that a seizure occurred.
Atonic seizuresSeizures that involve a loss of tone in the head, upper torso or whole body. In the most severe cases, patients with atonic seizures collapse to the ground face first.
CancerousA word used to describe a tumor or growth in the body that contains cancer cells. Tumors associated with tuberous sclerosis are not cancerous.
Complex partial seizuresSeizures that involve an alteration in a person’s level of consciousness coupled with changes in motor activity (jerking of one extremity or side of the body) and automatisms (repetitive chewing, swallowing, picking at clothes).
CT scanA scan that uses X-rays to take pictures of many different parts of the body.
EEGAn electroencephalogram is a recording of the electrical activity of the brain.
Seizure monitoring using simultaneous EEG and video recording. The monitoring can be prolonged, lasting from hours to days, and records both seizures and non-seizure behavior.
EpilepsyA disease characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Epilepsy afflicts an estimated 40 million people worldwide and approximately 2.3 million in the United States.
Epileptic seizureAn abnormal, excessive, sudden discharge of the neurons in the brain. In essence, a seizure is like an “electrical storm of the brain.”
Generalized onset seizuresSeizures that begin in one part of the brain and then travel throughout the brain.
Grand mal seizuresSee tonic-clonic seizures.
MRIMRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. An MRI uses a powerful magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce images of the inside the body. MRI can be used to take small section pictures of just about any body part.
Myoclonic seizuresBilateral (predominantly in the arms), irregular, arrhythmic seizures that can occur singularly or repetitively. These seizures may be so intense that some patients fall. The seizures usually occur shortly after waking and can interfere with dressing, combing hair, brushing teeth and activities in the kitchen. Myoclonic seizures are often brought on by sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol or menstruation.
Partial onset seizuresSeizures in small parts of the brain.
Petit mal seizuresSee absence seizures.
Postictal periodThe time following a seizure, where the patient will be very tired and usually sleeps. Recovery back to baseline following a seizure can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.
Tonic seizuresSeizures involving stiffening of all extremities. These can often lead to falls. At times, it is hard to tell visually whether the child fell due to loss of tone (atonic seizure) or stiffening (tonic seizure). Because of this difficulty separating atonic and tonic seizures, clinicians often lump atonic and tonic seizures together and call them “drop attacks.”
Tonic-clonic seizuresPreviously called grand mal seizures, these begin with stiffening of all extremities (tonic phase) followed by rhythmic jerking of all extremities (clonic phase). The tonic phase usually lasts about 30 to 60 seconds, and the clonic phase one to two minutes. The overwhelming majority of tonic-clonic seizures last less than three minutes.
Tuberous sclerosisA disorder in which benign tumors develop in various organs of the body, including the brain, eyes, skin and kidneys.
TumorAn abnormal mass of tissue in the body. Tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
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