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J Clin Neurophysiol. 2016 Feb;33(1):22-4. doi: 10.1097/WNP.0000000000000218.

Should Barbiturates be Used in Refractory Status Epilepticus?

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Department of Neurology, Epilepsy-Center Berlin-Brandenburg, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Status epilepticus (SE) is a frequent neurologic emergency, one third of patients do not respond to treatment with benzodiazepines followed by a second antiepileptic drug. While initial treatment of complex partial SE is accordant to that of generalized convulsive SE, further management of refractory SE depends on the risk for acute complications and long-term clinical consequences. These risks are low in complex partial SE; therefore, in this clinical form anesthetics commonly are not used. Generalized convulsive SE-even in its early course-is a potentially life-threatening condition; therefore, prompt use of anesthetics is urgently required. Drugs of choice are barbiturates, midazolam, and propofol, all of which exhibit specific advantages and disadvantages. Up to now, data from clinical studies do not allow to prefer or to discard one of these anesthetics, therefore also barbiturates still should be used in refractory SE. A widely accepted in-house protocol for the management of initial and refractory SE is highly recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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