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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2004 Jan;46(1):4-8.

Outcome after prolonged convulsive seizures in 186 children: low morbidity, no mortality.

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  • 1Medical School, University of Tampere, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland.


Prolonged convulsive seizures are a common neurological emergency and a potential cause of neuronal damage and functional sequelae. We explored the role of seizure duration and various background factors for neurological sequelae in children with prolonged convulsive seizures. The population-base of this study was all children (age < 16 years) who had been admitted to the Tampere University Hospital, Finland between 1993 and 1999 with convulsive seizures lasting more than 5 minutes. Patients were followed up individually (mean length of follow-up 2 years 1 month, range 0 to 7 years 8 months). All available data on the prolonged seizure episodes and clinical follow-up were analyzed retrospectively by a detailed review of all medical charts and records. In 186 children (94 males, 92 females; mean age 4 years 5 months, SD 3 years 10 months, range 1 month to 15 years 4 months) there were 279 separate convulsive seizure episodes lasting over 5 minutes, yielding an annual incidence of 47.5 out of every 100000 episodes. Seizure aetiology was idiopathic in 26.2% of episodes, febrile in 41.9%, remote symptomatic in 28%, and acute symptomatic in 3.9% of episodes. Mean duration of all seizure episodes was 42.5 minutes (SD 46.1 minutes) and was significantly correlated with the aetiology: shortest in the febrile group (mean 35.4 minutes) and longest in the acute symptomatic group (mean 88.6 minutes; p < 0.001). There was no mortality related directly to these acute seizure episodes. The most common sequela was an onset of epilepsy in 40 children (22%). Permanent neurological sequelae were noted in only four patients (2.2%; mean seizure duration 16 minutes) and non-permanent sequelae in six patients (3.2%; mean seizure duration 38 minutes). Neurological sequelae of prolonged convulsive seizures in children are rare and are related to aetiological factors rather than the duration of a single seizure. The role of acute seizures in the evolution of epilepsy in children remains obscure.

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