Petit Mal Seizures

Petit mal seizures occur in 25% of all epilepsy patients and 5% of pediatric epilepsy patients (are most common between ages 3-15 years). They occur frequently (multiple daily episodes) usually shortly after awakening or during periods of inactivity.

The clinical manifestations are:

  • Unresponsiveness
  • Eyelid clonus (rapid or cyclic blinking)
  • Tonic or atonic features
  • If standing, the patient will remain standing
  • There is no aura or postictal state
  • The duration does not exceed 10 seconds

Emergency Management

Should a patient exhibit a petit mal seizure, the following steps should be taken:

  • Recognize the problem based on the patient’s medical history.
  • Recognize the problem (lack of response to stimulation).
  • Discontinue dental treatment.
  • Activate the office emergency team.
  • Position the patient in a supine position with the feet elevated.
  • Once the seizure ceases (<5 minutes) reassure the patient.
  • Discharge patient once fully recovered.

If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes:

  • Activate EMS.
  • Perform BLS as needed.