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Rev Neurol (Paris). 2009 Apr;165(4):366-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2009.01.033. Epub 2009 Mar 10.

[Management of convulsive status epilepticus: therapeutic strategies].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Service de réanimation médicale, hôpital Raymond-Poincaré, 104, boulevard Raymond-Poincaré, 92380 Garches, France. bernard.clair@rpc.aphp.fr


Increasing duration of generalized tonic-clonic status epilepticus increases the risk of neuronal damage and systemic complications. It is also a recognized contributing factor to drug resistance. The most indispensable quality an anticonvulsive medication is expected to have in this situation is therefore a rapid therapeutic effect, achieved without severe depressive, neurological, cardiovascular or respiratory side effects. The anticonvulsive strategy proposed here takes into account these prerequisites, as well as previously published research findings which remain limited on a number of aspects. The duration of the convulsions before medication must be taken into account when deciding on the initial treatment. If this is less than 30 min, a single drug regimen with benzodiazepine would be appropriate and sufficient initially. If lorazepam, which is unavailable in France, cannot be used, the pharmacokinetically similar clonazepam should be preferred. Beyond 30 min, a combination of benzodiazepine and an anticonvulsive with long-lasting effects -phenobarbital or fosphenytoin- is indicated. The choice between these two latter drugs depends on their respective contraindications and the circumstances surrounding the occurrence of the status epilepticus. The persistence of seizures beyond 20 min after beginning the phenobarbital infusion or 30 min after starting fosphenytoin signals a failure of the initial treatment and requires the immediate introduction of a second line of therapy. This may be an anticonvulsive with long-lasting effects providing the convulsions have been present for less than an hour, there is no suspicion of an acute cerebral lesion and there is no associated systemic factor of cerebral aggression. If not, the employment of anesthetic medication is immediately required.

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