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Neurologist. 2003 Mar;9(2):61-76.

Status epilepticus: a review of different syndromes, their current evaluation, and treatment.

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Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



Status epilepticus (SE) encompasses a wide range of seizure types with different clinical presentations, pathophysiologies, treatment imperatives, and outcomes. The most dramatic and life-threatening form, generalized convulsive status epilepticus, has been reviewed in all of these aspects, but other less common types of SE have been described less extensively.


Definitions of generalized convulsive SE and its pathophysiology are reviewed briefly. Defining SE by a specific duration of seizures is controversial and has implications for studies and for clinical management. Several types of SE are different in their causes, presentations, and outcomes. Many are underdiagnosed. This article focuses on the pharmacology and clinical studies of several anticonvulsant medications used to treat SE. A protocol approach is not detailed. Rather, the clinical evaluation begins with meticulous diagnosis of the type of SE. Establishing the SE syndrome diagnosis and use of anticonvulsants with demonstrated effectiveness facilitate an appropriate treatment plan for individual patients. Recent developments in the basic science of SE raise the possibility of better treatments in the future.


As there are many types of seizures, there are also many types of SE. Each has unique presentations and treatment considerations. Review of actual clinical data from SE treatment studies should be helpful in devising the best treatment for an individual patient.

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