Editors: Simon Shorvon, Renzo Guerrini, Mark Cook and Samden D. Lhatoo
Series Editor: Christopher Kennard – Oxford textbooks in clinical neurology
Publisher: Oxford University Press – 384 pages
Includes access to Oxford Medicine Online
Book Review by: Nano Khilnani

Epilepsy is a condition that pertains to any of various disorders marked by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain and typically manifested by sudden brief episodes of altered or diminished consciousness, involuntary movements, or convulsions.

Epileptic seizures are any of the various involuntary movements or convulsions that occur in people during these brief episodes of altered or diminished consciousness.

In many cases, a cause cannot be immediately identified, but some factors that are associated with epilepsy include brain cancer or brain trauma, strokes, and drug and alcohol misuse.

According to an article on this subject in Wikipedia, epileptic seizures result from abnormal, excessive or hyper-synchronous neuronal activity in the brain.

About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly 80 percent of epilepsy occurs in developing countries. Epilepsy becomes more common as people age. The onset of new cases occurs most frequently in infants and the elderly. as a consequence of brain surgery. But epileptic seizures may also occur in recovering patients.

Epilepsy is usually controlled, but not cured, with medication. However, more than 30 percent of people with epilepsy do not have seizure control even with the best available medications. Surgery may be considered in difficult cases. Not all epilepsy syndromes are lifelong – some forms are confined to particular stages of childhood.

Epilepsy should not be understood as a single disorder, but rather as syndromes with vastly divergent symptoms, all involving episodic abnormal electrical activity in the brain and numerous seizures.

For this book on epilepsy, some 55 specialists (including the four editors) in various areas of neurology and related disciplines in 14 countries – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States – have contributed portions of their knowledge and experience to the 37 chapters of this volume to make it a truly valuable one.

The topics covered are numerous, so this is quite a comprehensive volume on neurology in general and epilepsy in particular. Its chapters cover the anatomical, biological, chemical, epidemiological, genetic, psychiatric and physiological aspects of epilepsy; provide a definition of epilepsy in general and classify and describe the various types of epileptic seizures, their causes and the factors associated with them; and how this disorder is diagnosed and studied in detail, including the use of electroencephalogram and neuroimaging.

Other chapters look into the biochemical, genetic, hematological, and histological investigation of epilepsy; the reproductive aspects of epilepsy; neonatal and infantile-onset epilepsies; epileptic encephalopathies; and principles of treatment of epilepsy in children, adolescents, and the elderly.

Still other chapters discuss epilepsy caused by brain injury, brain tumors, cerebro-vascular disease, and central nervous system infections; epilepsy in hepatic, renal, and other conditions; management of patients, medical treatment of chronic active epilepsy and epilepsy in remission.

Lastly, a series of chapters discuss the pharmacological and surgical treatments of epilepsy, including resections; vagal nerve stimulations; sexual and emotional behavior in epilepsy; cognition and memory; the legal aspects of epilepsy and driving and epilepsy.

Each chapter starts with an introduction of the subject covered, as outlined in its title. Then, various related topics within that subject of the chapter are laid out and discussion follows. Conclusions of that chapter are given in the end, followed finally by an extensive list of References related to the footnotes indicated in that chapter. Each chapter is well illustrated with charts, tables and other graphic aids to make study easier.

This is an authoritative and fairly comprehensive text on epilepsy, epileptic seizures, and other neurological disorders. We commend the editors for their terrific skills in planning, compiling, and organizing the materials; and the numerous contributing chapter authors for sharing their expert knowledge by writing on their specialties. A job well done indeed, by all.


Simon Shorvon is affiliated with the UCL Institute of Neurology at the University College of London in London, United Kingdom.

Renzo Guerrini is with the Pediatric Neurology and Laboratories at the Children’s Hospital A. Meyer at the University of Florence in Florence, Italy.

Mark Cook works at the University of Melbourne St. Vincent’s Hospital in Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia.

Samden D. Lhatoo is associated with the Epilepsy Center, University Hospitals – Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.