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Niger J Clin Pract. 2005 Dec;8(2):94-6.

The determinants of seizure severity in Nigerian epileptics.

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Department of Medicine, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.



Epilepsy is a chronic disease and the control of seizures is central to its management. While seizure frequency has been the traditional index of epilepsy control. severity of seizures is probably as important as seizure frequency in this regard. Seizure severity scales have therefore been developed to assess the impact of antiepileptic drugs on seizure control. The eight items of the national hospital seizure severity scale were applied in this study to Nigerian subjects with epilepsy to determine which aspects of seizure severity were considered relevant from the patients' perspective.


Twenty-eight confirmed subjects with epilepsy at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, were studied. The National Hospital seizure severity scale questionnaire was administered to all subjects. This assesses generalisation of seizures, falls, injuries, urinary incontinence, warning interval before loss of consciousness, automatisms and time of recovery on a graded scale.


The most frequent indices of seizure severity in Nigerian epileptics is the generalisation of seizures in 85.7% of subjects, incontinence of urine in 78.6%, absence of protective warning time in 75% and occurrence of serious injuries in 71.5%. Occurrence of falls and disruptive automatisms were less frequent. Seizure severity scores were worse in subjects with longer duration of epilepsy and in those on monotherapy.


The indices of seizure severity that occurred most frequently in Nigerian subjects with epilepsy were generalisation of seizures, incontinence of urine, absence of protective warning time and serious injuries. These may need to be addressed in the management of epilepsy patients. Subjects on monotherapy in this study had worse seizure severity scores and this may indicate the need to consider early rational polytherapy in order to improve seizure control.

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