The international classification of the epilepsies and epileptic syndromes: An algorithm for its use in clinical practice

Giuseppe Rinaldi, Michele M. Zarrelli, Ettore Beghi, Francesco Apollo, Michele Germano, Piero Di Viesti, Pasqualino Simone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An algorithm has been structured as a guided reading of the international league against epilepsy (ILAE) syndromic classification to be used in clinical practice by less experienced physicians in newly diagnosed patients. The algorithm followed the original structure of the classification, which identifies major syndromic groups, subgroups, and specific syndromes. Validation required two raters, a resident and a board- certified neurologist, to apply the algorithm with different techniques (direct or recorded interview, medical record consultation) to 19 children and 18 adults with epilepsy with information available at the time of diagnosis. The two raters' diagnoses were compared with those of the caring physicians, and cases where disagreement arose were discussed in conference to achieve consensus. The κ statistic was used as a measure of inter-rater agreement. Caring physicians and both raters agreed in 51% of cases. Substantial agreement (κ = 0.75) was obtained between the resident and the neurologist on major diagnostic groups and subgroups, mostly in adults. Agreement with the caring physician was slightly more satisfactory for the resident (κ = 0.67) than for the neurologist (κ = 0.60). Agreement was better with direct or indirect interview than with record consultation, and improved further after discussion. Agreement was obtained after discussion in 32% of cases, in some of which the caring physician agreed on the resident's diagnosis. Agreement was less satisfactory for specific syndromes. On this basis, an algorithm of the ILAE classification is a fairly reliable instrument only for making a broad syndromic classification of epilepsy at the time of diagnosis. The limits of the algorithm tend mostly to reflect the intrinsic limitations of the classification itself. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-234
Number of pages12
JournalEpilepsy Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2 2000


  • Classification
  • Diagnosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Epileptic syndromes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology


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