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The outcome of therapies in refractory and super-refractory convulsive status epilepticus and recommendations for therapy

Simon Shorvon, Monica Ferlisi
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/aws091 2314-2328 First published online: 9 May 2012

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In a previous paper, we reviewed the range of therapies available for the treatment of super-refractory status epilepticus. Here we report a review of the outcome of therapies in refractory and super-refractory status epilepticus. Patients (n = 1168) are reported who had therapy with: thiopental, pentobarbital, midazolam, propofol, ketamine, inhalational anaesthetics (isoflurane, desflurane), antiepileptic drugs (topiramate, lacosamide, pregabalin, levetiracetam), hypothermia, magnesium, pyridoxine, immunotherapy, ketogenic diet, emergency neurosurgery, electroconvulsive therapy, cerebrospinal fluid drainage, vagal nerve stimulation and deep brain stimulation. The outcome parameters reported include control of status epilepticus, relapse on withdrawal, breakthrough seizures and mortality. Where reported (596 cases), the long-term outcome was found to be death (35%), severe neurological deficit (13%), mild neurological deficit (13%), undefined deficit (4%) and recovery to baseline (35%). The quality of reported outcome data is generally poor and the number of cases reported for all non-anaesthetic therapies is low. Outcome assessment is complicated by changes in co-medication, delay in response and publication bias. Given these deficits, only broad recommendations can be made regarding optimal therapy. An approach to therapy, divided into first-line, second-line and third-line therapy, is suggested on the basis of this outcome evaluation. The importance of treatments directed at the cause of the status epilepticus, and of supportive ITU care is also emphasized.

  • status epilepticus
  • outcome
  • refractory epilepsy
  • morbidity
  • mortality
  • therapy
  • Abbreviations
    intensive treatment unit
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