An absence, or absence attack, is a brief interruption of awareness of epileptic origin. This may be a barely noticeable suspension of speech or attentiveness, without postictal confusion or awareness that an attack has occurred, as in idiopathic generalized epilepsy of absence type (absence epilepsy; petit mal), a disorder exclusive to childhood and associated with 3 Hz spike and slow wave EEG abnormalities.

Absence epilepsy may be confused with a more obvious distancing, "trance-like" state, or "glazing over", possibly with associated automatisms, such as lip smacking, due to a complex partial seizure of temporal lobe origin ("atypical absence").

Ethosuximide and/or sodium valproate are the treatments of choice for idiopathic generalized absence epilepsy, whereas carbamazepine, sodium valproate, or lamotrigine are first-line agents for localization-related complex partial seizures.


Cross References

Automatism; Seizures