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Epilepsia. 1993 Nov-Dec;34(6):1033-7.

Status epilepticus related to alcohol abuse.

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Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0870.


We reviewed the case records of 249 adult patients with generalized convulsive status epilepticus (SE) examined in San Francisco General Hospital between 1977 and 1989 and identified 27 patients (10.8%) in whom alcohol abuse was the only identifiable precipitating cause of SE. In 12 patients (44% of the study group), SE was the first presentation of alcohol-related seizures. Seizures with focal features were observed in 11 patients (40.1%), but there was little correlation with localized computed tomography (CT) or EEG abnormalities. SE was controlled with phenytoin (PHT), with or without a benzodiazepine (BZD), in 18 patients (66.7%). Twenty-two patients (81.5%) were discharged with no new neurologic deficits, but time to recovery of baseline mental status was prolonged (> 12 h) in 24 patients. With regard to alcohol abuse history, study patients did not differ from a comparison group with isolated alcohol withdrawal seizures. The results indicate that alcohol abuse is a common cause of SE and that SE may be the first presentation of alcohol-related seizures. Furthermore, the outcome of patients with alcohol-related SE compares favorably with that of patients with SE due to other causes, but recovery of these patients may be complicated by a prolonged postictal state.

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