Classification of childhood epilepsy syndromes in newly diagnosed epilepsy: Interrater agreement and reasons for disagreement

Anne T. Berg, Susan R. Levy, Francine M. Testa, Shlomo Shinnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Purpose: The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) classification of the epilepsies is in increasingly widespread use. The following analysis was done to assess the interrater agreement in classifying epilepsy syndromes in children with newly diagnosed epilepsy. Methods: In a prospective, community-based study, 613 children with newly diagnosed epilepsy were recruited. Based on information available at diagnosis or generated as part of the initial diagnostic assessment, three pediatric neurologists independently classified epilepsy syndromes. Interrater agreement was assessed with κ. Results: Interrater agreement was extremely good, with κ scores ≥0.80 for almost all comparisons. Relatively limited quality of the EEG and seizure information in some cases, as well as discrepancies between the two, were associated with a tendency for more disagreement. Conclusions: A high degree of interrater agreement was obtained in this study, indicating that the system for classifying syndromes can be meaningfully used in a community-based sample. Quality of the information, which is often, by necessity, less than optimal in newly diagnosed epilepsy, is a potential barrier to identification of syndromes. A substantial proportion of children were classified into relatively nonspecific syndromes. Over time, additional information may come to light to allow more precise identification of their forms of epilepsy. In an epidemiologic setting, the ILAE classification of the epilepsies can be successfully used with a high degree of reliability to classify newly diagnosed epilepsy in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-444
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999


  • Childhood
  • Diagnosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Epilepsy syndromes
  • ILAE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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