Can anesthetic treatment worsen outcome in status epilepticus?

Raoul Sutter, Peter W. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Status epilepticus refractory to first-line and second-line antiepileptic treatments challenges neurologists and intensivists as mortality increases with treatment refractoriness and seizure duration. International guidelines advocate anesthetic drugs, such as continuously administered high-dose midazolam, propofol, and barbiturates, for the induction of therapeutic coma in patients with treatment-refractory status epilepticus. The seizure-suppressing effect of anesthetic drugs is believed to be so strong that some experts recommend using them after benzodiazepines have failed. Although the rationale for the use of anesthetic drugs in patients with treatment-refractory status epilepticus seems clear, the recommendation of their use in treating status epilepticus is based on expert opinions rather than on strong evidence. Randomized trials in this context are lacking, and recent studies provide disturbing results, as the administration of anesthetics was associated with poor outcome independent of possible confounders. This calls for caution in the straightforward use of anesthetics in treating status epilepticus. However, there are still more questions than answers, and current evidence for the adverse effects of anesthetic drugs in patients with status epilepticus remains too limited to advocate a change of treatment algorithms. In this overview, the rationale and the conflicting clinical implications of anesthetic drugs in patients with treatment-refractory status epilepticus are discussed, and remaining questions are elaborated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-297
Number of pages4
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Volume49
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Keywords

  • Anesthetic drugs
  • Neurocritical care
  • Outcome
  • Status epilepticus
  • Therapeutic coma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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