Epilepsy is a disorder affecting the nervous system and is generally characterized by recurrent seizure attacks. It is often named according to the affected area of the brain that is causing the seizures. When the epilepsy originates from the frontal lobe of the brain, it is termed frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE). Frontal lobe epilepsy is one of the most common types of seizures that affect men and women of all ages. Most frontal lobe epilepsy cases are characterized by partial seizures or seizures that occur in only one area of the brain.
Affected individuals may suffer weakness in some muscles, including the muscles used for talking. Typical symptoms in these patients include sudden kicking or thrashing motions, especially while sleeping. There is then the jerking of the head to only one side, with one of the arm rising in the air. The episode usually occurs for a short period of time, from seconds to a few minutes.
These partial seizures can either be simple partial or complex partial seizures. Simple partial seizures usually have no effect on an individual's memory. Patients are often aware of what is happening while they are having a seizure. In complex partial seizures, affected individuals frequently have no recollection of the episode, and are often tired or confused after experiencing them.
The causes for frontal lobe epilepsy are often associated with trauma, tumors, vascular malformations, and infections that occur in the brain. Frontal lobe epilepsy can also be a hereditary disorder. One example of this is the autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy. This is a rare neurological disorder that can be passed by an affected parent to one or most of his children.
Neurologists, doctors who specialize in diseases of the nervous system, are often the ones who diagnose and manage patients with epilepsy. They may utilize one or more diagnostic tools when evaluating patients with epilepsy. These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), positron emission tomography (PET), and molecular genetic testing. Some patients may also need an electroencephalography (EEG) evaluation.
Treatment for patients with frontal lobe epilepsy frequently consists of giving one or more anticonvulsant medications. About 65 to 75 percent of frontal lobe epilepsy patients respond to suitable anticonvulsant therapy and become seizure free. Some patients who do not respond to these medications may be treated using resective surgery, or through vagal nerve stimulation. In resective surgery, the area of the brain that is causing the seizure is often removed. Vagal nerve stimulation is another surgical procedure, which places a stimulator inside the brain to stimulate the vagus nerve at a given rate.