petit mal

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 [mal] (Fr. and Sp.)
mal de Meleda symmetrical keratosis of the palms and soles associated with a dry, scaly thickening of the wrists and ankles.
mal de mer seasickness.

pe·tit mal sei·zure

obsolescent term for a cerebral seizure not manifested by tonic-clonic movements (that is, grand mal); formerly thought to be the clinical manifestation solely of a 3-second spike in wave pattern, as seen on electroencephalography, but now known to be associated with several different EEG patterns.

petit mal

/pe·tit mal/ (pĕ-te´ mahl´) [Fr.] see under epilepsy.

petit mal

Absence Neurology A spell characterized by lapse of attention and awareness, with loss of recall, without convulsions or loss consciousness. Cf Grand mal seizure; psychomotor epilepsy.

pe·tit mal

(pĕ-tē' mahl)
Type of seizure; often associated with an instance of fixed gaze (i.e., staring), typically lasting only a few seconds.
[Fr. small illness]

petit mal

A minor form of EPILEPSY. Petit mal attacks are almost entirely confined to children and adolescents. There is a momentary unappreciated loss of awareness and social contact but the child does not fall and may even continue automatically with some activity, such as cycling. Attacks may be very frequent and may severely interfere with education. Petit mal can be controlled with anticonvulsant drugs.


chronic neurological disorder characterized by variable episodes of paroxysmal brain dysfunction (i.e. a fit), altered levels of consciousness and excessive neuronal discharge and/or convulsions followed by a period of sleepiness; fits are controlled by antiepileptic drugs, e.g. carbamazepine (Tegretol), gabapentin (Neurontin), phenytoin (Epanutin), pregabalin (Lyrica), sodium valproate (Epilim); local anaesthetic drugs within the systemic circulation agonize antiepileptic medications
  • focal epilepsy; cortical epilepsy seizure often preceded by a specific sensory phenomenon (aura), and characterized by isolated disturbance of cerebral function, e.g. uncontrollable twitching of one limb, and followed by some degree of subsequent temporary mental dysfunction

  • generalized epilepsy; grand mal epilepsy a classic epileptic seizure often preceded by a brief, specific sensory phenomenon (aura), and characterized by a sudden loss of consciousness, cyanosis and tonic muscular spasm (lasting approximately 30 seconds), followed by repetitive clonic body jerking, (lasting for a few minutes), with frothing at the mouth and urinary incontinence after which the patient remains unconscious or semiconscious and flaccid for several minutes; the patient may remain drowsy or confused for some time after the seizure has passed

  • petit mal epilepsy characterized by short period of 'absence', during which the patient does not become unconscious or suffer muscular spasms but is temporarily non-reactive to and unaware of his or her surroundings or actions

  • temporal-lobe epilepsy; psychomotor epilepsy attacks characterized by impaired consciousness and amnesia, clonic limb movements, hallucinations or other psychic disturbances

  • tonic epilepsy seizure characterized by tonic convulsions and rigidity

petit mal

a relatively mild seizure contrasting with grand mal, a major seizure. Occurs in humans where the patient loses consciousness only momentarily and there are few motor signs. True petit mal seizures would be difficult to detect, but probably do occur occasionally in animals. See also seizure.