Status epilepticus resident survival guide
Status epilepticus is defined as continuous clinical and/or electroencephalographic seizure persisting longer than 5 minutes or the occurrence of two or more episodes of seizures within one hour without returning to the baseline level of consciousness between the seizures.
Life Threatening Causes
Life-threatening causes include conditions which may result in death or permanent disability within 24 hours if left untreated. Status epilepticus is a life threatening condition by itself because it results in serious immediate and long term morbidity and mortality if the convulsive seize is not terminated by 30 minutes; therefore, treatment is required urgently.
- Brain abscess
- Brain trauma
- Cardiac arrest
- Cerebrovascular disorders
- CNS tumor
- Drug toxicity
- Electrolytes abnormalities
- Hypertensive encephalopathy
- Low antiepileptic drug levels in patients with epilepsy
- Withdrawal from opioids, benzodiazepine, barbiturates or alcohol
Shown below is an algorithm summarizing the approach to status epilepticus. The goal of the treatment is to stop the seizure as soon as possible; therefore, begin the general measures and administer the antiepileptic medications (AED) SIMULTANEOUSLY.
Characterize the symptoms:
❑ Tonic phase with muscle spasms
❑ Rapid jerky movement
❑ Uprolling of eyes
❑ Tongue biting
Determine the onset of symptoms:❑ Ask a witness
General measures to be done SIMULTANEOUSLY and in PARALLEL to the administration of antiepileptic medications ( Emergency):
Begin initial care:
❑ Turn patient to side
❑ Secure airway
❑ Assess respiratory and cardiac functions
❑ Administer high concentration O2
❑ Maintain blood pressure
❑ Establish IV access
❑ Institute regular monitoring for pulse, blood pressure, temperature
❑ ECG monitoring
❑ Check fingerstick glucose, and correct hypoglycemia if present ( Emergency)
Consider vitamin deficiencies:
Consider alternative diagnosis:
Treat acidosis if severe
Recurrent or ongoing seizure ( 5-30 mins after onset)? ( Emergency)
Administer IV antiepileptic drugs:
❑ Levetiracetam (20-30 mg/kg)
Recurrent or ongoing seizure ( >30 mins after onset)? ( Emergency)
Elective coma induction with anesthestic agents:
hyperthermia, hypertension, tachycardia, arrhythmia, hypoxia, metabolic acidosis, hyperkalemia, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, high output cardiac failure, pulmonary edema, pulmonary hypertension
- Make sure to secure airway and maintain blood pressure within normal ranges, then administer anticonvulsants and then proceed to complete the diagnostic workup.
- Consult neurology and anesthesiology.
- In the case of seizures lasting more than 5 minutes, it is beneficial do begin pre-hospital treatment with rectal diazepam (15-20 mg) among adults and children known to have frequent seizure episodes. IV lorazepam (2 mg, may repeat one) or IV diazepam (5 mg, may repeat once) can be started by well-trained teams of paramedics during the pre-hospital care of patients with seizures lasting more than 5 minutes.
- The initial treatment with IV benzodiazepines ( lorazepam, midazolam or diazepam) may be repeated once 10 minutes following the first administered dose.
- Buccal midazolam (10 mg) or rectal diazepam (15-20 mg) can be used if IV access could not be established to administer IV benzodiazepine.
- Don't delay the initiation of treatment during the initial diagnostic evaluation.
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