A 23-year-old female is admitted to your ICU following her first presentation with seizures. A collateral history suggested that she had been acting unusually for the previous few days before she was seen to collapse with a tonic-clonic seizure. She continued to fit during transfer to hospital.
On arrival to the Emergency Department she was given further doses of midazolam IV and loaded with levetiracetam IV. After 20 minutes she continued to have sporadic seizure activity with a best GCS of 6 and was intubated using propofol and rocuronium.
a) List six possible causes for her presentation. (30% marks)
On admission to ICU she is on a propofol infusion at 20 mg/hr, minimal ventilatory support and is haemodynamically stable. She continues to have intermittent seizures .
b) Briefly outline your specific management with respect to the seizures. (70% marks)
Acute structural brain injury (stroke, HI, SAH)
Infection (encephalitis, meningitis, abscess)
Tumour (CNS, Paraneoplastic syndromes / autoantibodies to remote tumours)
Withdrawal (Alcohol, barbiturates, BDZ)
Metabolic (hypoglycaemia, HE, uraemia, hyponat, hypergly/Ca/Mg)
Or any acceptable cause – PRES, CNS vasculitis etc.
Look for and treat underlying cause of refractory status epilepticus (RSE)
Principles of treatment for RSE
• Look for and treat underlying cause
History including travel, examination, CT, LP, BSL, U&E, metabolic screen, drug screen, auto-immune screen, beta-HCG, paraneoplastic markers, MRI
• Additional agents (one to three or more) to prevent emergence seizures, e.g. Phenytoin, Fosphenytoin, Levetiraetam, Valporate, Phenobarbitone BDZ – clonazepam / diazepam / lorazepam
• General Anaesthesia with EEG monitoring
Propofol / thiopentone / inhalational anaesthetics
• EEG to burst suppression OR seizure suppression only (controversial)
• No guidelines for duration of therapy - initially 24 to 48 hours (controversial)
• If emergence seizures develop treat for longer or deeper or both (controversial)
• Try to avoid rapid switches or changes in agent dosing (as per conventional seizure Mx)
• Avoid NMBs unless continuous EEG monitoring
• Avoid hyperthermia and consider hypothermia
Additional Examiners' Comments:
Almost all the candidates were able to answer the first part. Although all the candidates wrote something about the management of the case, it tended to be limited and largely disorganised. There was a lot of generic information not related to the "specific management with respect to the seizures", e.g. „FAST HUG‟ that did not score the candidate any marks.
The most common causes of status epilepticus are failure to take one’s own epilepsy tablets. For the weird causes, there is a good article which lists a massive spectrum of toxins, genetic diseases, rare autoimmune conditions and what have you.
Management of status epilepticus is discussed in greater detail elsewhere. To borrow from that chapter, here is a list of specific therapies for status epilepticus:
First line agents
Second line agents
Third line agents: for refractory status epilepticus
Fourth line agents: for these, there is little evidence.
Fifth line therapies: for these, the evidence borders on the veterinarian
Chapter 49 (pp. 549) Disorders of consciousness by Balasubramanian Venkatesh
Chapter 50 (pp. 560) Status epilepticus by Helen I Opdam
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