Atonic seizure

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Atonic seizure
Classification and external resources
Specialty neurology
ICD-10 G40.3
MeSH D004832

Atonic seizures (also called drop seizures, akinetic seizures or drop attacks), are a type of seizure that consist of a brief lapse in muscle tone that are caused by temporary alterations in brain function. The seizures are brief - usually less than fifteen seconds. They begin in childhood and may persist into adulthood. The seizure itself causes no injury, but the loss of muscle control can result in direct injury from falling. Electroencephalography can be used to confirm diagnosis. It is rare and can be indicative of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (see Henri Gastaut).

Atonic seizures can occur while standing, walking or sitting, and are often noticeable by a head drop (the neck muscles relaxing) and injury may result from hitting the face or head. As with common epileptic occurrences, no first aid is needed post-seizure, except in the instances where falling injuries have occurred. In some cases, a person may become temporarily paralyzed in part of his or her body. This usually does not last longer than 3 minutes.


There is no general treatment for patients with a seizure disorder. Each treatment plan is specifically tailored to the individual patient based on their diagnosis and symptoms. Treatment options may include medical therapy, nerve stimulation, dietary therapy, or surgery, as appropriate. Clinical trials may also be a valuable treatment alternative. Usually, anticonvulsants are given based on other symptoms and / or associated problems. Because the areas of the cerebellum which determine increases and decreases in muscular tonus are close together, people experiencing atonic seizures are most likely experiencing myoclonic ones too, at some point. This may play a role in therapy and diagnostic.[1]