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Neurosurgery. 1995 Nov;37(5):863-70; discussion 870-1.

Short-term perioperative anticonvulsant prophylaxis for the surgical treatment of low-risk patients with intracranial aneurysms.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York, USA.


The long-term use of anticonvulsant medication to prevent postoperative seizures in patients with aneurysms has been accepted medical practice for many years. The low incidence of seizures in more recent aneurysm series makes it appropriate to re-evaluate the use of prophylactic anticonvulsants to prevent postoperative epilepsy, especially in patients at low risk of seizure disorders. On the basis of preoperative presentation, we categorized 387 of the 420 craniotomies for aneurysms over a 4-year period to be at low risk of seizure. Postoperative anticonvulsant medication in this group was restricted to an average of 3 days. A retrospective analysis of the incidence of early postoperative seizures and late postoperative seizure disorders was performed in the populations of patients with ruptured aneurysms and with unruptured aneurysms with an average follow-up of 2.4 years. The overall seizure rate in the study group was 5.4%. Patients with ruptured aneurysms had an early postoperative seizure rate of 1.5% and a long-term seizure disorder rate of 3.0%. Early and long-term seizure rates for unruptured aneurysms were 2.6 and 4.4%, respectively. No patients who had early seizures went on to develop epilepsy, and all seizure disorders were well controlled once anticonvulsants were begun. These data support the idea that anticonvulsant medication may be safely restricted to the immediate perioperative period for most patients with aneurysms.

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