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Refractory status epilepticus (RSE) occurs in up to 30% of patients following resuscitation after cardiac arrest. The impact of aggressive treatment of postanoxic RSE on long-term neurological outcome remains uncertain. We investigated neurological outcome of cardiac arrest patients with RSE treated with a standardized aggressive protocol with antiepileptic drugs and anesthetics, compared with patients with other electroencephalographic (EEG) patterns. A prospective cohort of 166 consecutive patients with cardiac arrest in coma was stratified according to four independent EEG patterns (benign; RSE; generalized periodic discharges (GPDs); malignant nonepileptiform) and multimodal prognostic indicators. Primary outcomes were survival and cerebral performance category (CPC) at 6 months. Refractory status epilepticus occurred in 36 patients (21.7%) and was treated with an aggressive standardized protocol as long as multimodal prognostic indicators were not unfavorable. Refractory status epilepticus started after 3 ± 2.3 days after cardiac arrest and lasted 4.7 ± 4.3 days. A benign electroencephalographic patterns was recorded in 76 patients (45.8%), a periodic pattern (GPDs) in 13 patients (7.8%), and a malignant nonepileptiform EEG pattern in 41 patients (24.7%). The four EEG patterns were highly associated with different prognostic indicators (low flow time, clinical motor seizures, N20 responses, neuron-specific enolase (NSE), neuroimaging). Survival and good neurological outcome (CPC 1 or 2) at 6 months were 72.4% and 71.1% for benign EEG pattern, 54.3% and 44.4% for RSE, 15.4% and 0% for GPDs, and 2.4% and 0% for malignant nonepileptiform EEG pattern, respectively. Aggressive and prolonged treatment of RSE may be justified in cardiac arrest patients with favorable multimodal prognostic indicators. This article is part of the Special Issue "Proceedings of the 7th London-Innsbruck Colloquium on Status Epilepticus and Acute Seizures".

Original publication




Journal article


Epilepsy Behav

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Antiepileptic drugs, Cardiac arrest, Coma, EEG, Prognosis, Status epilepticus, Aged, Anticonvulsants, Coma, Electroencephalography, Female, Heart Arrest, Humans, Hypoxia, Male, Middle Aged, Prognosis, Prospective Studies, Status Epilepticus, Treatment Outcome