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Alternative Names Return to topSeizure - tonic-clonic; Seizure - grand mal; Grand mal seizure; Seizure - generalized
Definition Return to top
A generalized tonic-clonic seizure is a seizure involving the entire body. It is also called a grand mal seizure. Such seizures usually involve muscle rigidity, violent muscle contractions, and loss of consciousness.
Generalized tonic-clonic seizures are the type of seizure that most people associate with the term "seizure," convulsion, or epilepsy. They may occur in people of any age, as a single episode, or as part of a repeated, chronic condition (epilepsy).
For more information see:
Symptoms Return to top
Many patients have an aura (a sensory warning sign) before the seizure. This can include vision, taste, smell, or sensory changes, hallucinations, or dizziness.
The seizure itself involves:
Almost all people lose consciousness, and most people have both tonic and clonic muscle activity.
After the seizure, the person usually has:
References Return to top
Foldvary-Schaefer N, Wyllie E. Epilepsy. In: Goetz CG. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3nd ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2007.
Marx J. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2002.
Krumholz A, Wiebe S, Gronseth G, et al. Practice Parameter: evaluating an apparent unprovoked first seizure in adults (an evidence-based review): report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society. Neurology. 2007 Nov 20;69(21):1996-2007.
Spencer SS. Seizures and epilepsy. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
Tomson T, Hiilesmaa V. Epilepsy in pregnancy. BMJ. 2007 Oct 13;335(7623):769-73.
Sheth RD, Hardin CL. Screening for bone health in epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2007;48 Suppl 9:39-41Update Date: 3/28/2009 Updated by: Reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine.