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Comprehensive Epilepsy Program:

First Seizure Clinic



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The Clinic




The Clinic

The First Seizure Clinic provides a unique service for patients in our region for an urgent diagnosis of first seizures and new onset epilepsy. It has been the source of significant clinical research that has been published in international journals.

The Clinic is supervised by Dr Newton M.D. FRACP, an epilepsy specialist working in the Comprehensive Epilepsy Programme at Austin Health. The clinic was established in 1994 as part of a clinical research study headed by Dr Mark King, with Prof Sam Berkovic and Dr Mark Newton and was the first such clinic in the world.

The aim of the Clinic is to receive patients who may have had an epileptic seizure for the first time or for whom a diagnosis of epilepsy is suspected. An urgent referral pathway has been established to avoid the usual delays in assessment and counselling for people in this situation where there is often a significant impact on their psychological and social health. The referrals are made from local practitioners and A&E department doctors from the North East area of Melbourne to our on-call registrars at the Austin Hospital. The registrars then arrange an urgent EEG and the patient makes an appointment for the Clinic  by telephone. We aim to see people within two weeks of the suspected seizure and at the consultation there are a number of investigations available, which facilitates the diagnosis in most cases.

The Clinic comprises Dr Mark Newton, a team of young neurologists who are specialising in epilepsy. A clinical trials coordinator and clinical research assistant are also often present at the clinic.


Further information on first seizure clinic appointments can be found in the patient information section.



Our current research interests include:

  • Genetics of epilepsy
  • Pharmacogenetics (genetics of drug responsiveness and side effects)
  • MRI changes in new onset epilepsy
  • TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) to aid in diagnosis, and
  • a longitudinal study into the psycho-social and cognitive impact on people with a diagnosis of epilepsy

Many of these studies are “international firsts” and will have important implications for services required by patients in the First Seizure Clinic.  Currently, we are assessing the long term outcome of our large cohort of cases



Some of our important publications are listed below. More publications and details can be found using the search engine PubMed or on Prof Sam Berkovic, Dr Mark Newton and Dr Anne McIntosh's University of Melbourne Profiles.

  • King MA, Newton MR, Jackson GD, Fitt GJ, Mitchell LA, Silvapulle MJ, Berkovic SF. Epileptology of the first-seizure presentation: a clinical, electroencephalographic and magnetic resonance imaging study of 300 consecutive patients. Lancet 1998; 352: 1007-1011.
  • King MA, Newton MR, Berkovic SF. Benign partial seizures of adolescence. Epilepsia 1999; 40: 1244-1247.
  • Macdonell RA, King MA, Newton MR, Curatolo JM, Reutens DC, Berkovic SF. Prolonged cortical silent period after transcranial magnetic stimulation in generalized epilepsy. Neurology 2001 ; 57: 706-8.
  • Briellmann RS, Berkovic SF, Syngeniotis A, King MA, Jackson GD. Seizure-associated hippocampal volume loss: a longitudinal MR-study of temporal lobe epilepsy. Ann Neurol 2002; 51: 641-4.
  • Marini C, King MA, Archer JA, Newton MR, Berkovic SF. Idiopathic generalized epilepsy of late onset: clinical syndromes and genetics. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2003; 74: 192-6.
  • Yenjun S, Harvey AS, Marini C, Newton MR, King MA, Berkovic SF. EEG in adult-onset idiopathic generalized epilepsy. Epilepsia 2003; 44: 252-6.
  • Fedi M, Mitchell AL, Kalnins RM, Gutmann DH, Perry A, Newton M, Brodtmann A, Berkovic SF. Glioneuronal tumours in neurofibromatosis type 1: MRI-pathological study. J Clin Neurosci 2004; 11: 745-7.
  • Labate A, Newton MR, Vernon GM, Berkovic SF. Tramadol and new-onset seizures (letter). Med J Aust 2005; 182: 42-3.
  • Velissaris SL, Wilson SJ, Saling MM, Newton MR, Berkovic SF. The psychosocial impact of a newly-diagnosed seizure: losing and restoring perceived control. Epilepsy & Behaviour 2007; 10: 223-233.

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Created: 15 Sept 2003
Last modified: 1 Feb 2012
Authorised by: Prof Sam Berkovic
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Maintained by: Susannah Bellows
Email: epilepsy-austin@unimelb.edu.au
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