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First Adult Seizure Treatment & Management

  • Author: Eissa Ibrahim AlEissa, MD, MBBS; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
 
Updated: Jul 06, 2016
 

Approach Considerations

Many patients who have a single seizure do not require anticonvulsant therapy. The physician and patient or family should decide jointly whether to institute anticonvulsant therapy after a single seizure. This decision is based on a discussion of the risk of seizure recurrence, the effectiveness of anticonvulsant treatment, and the adverse medical and socioeconomic effects of anticonvulsant treatment.

Many patients who have a seizure recover spontaneously and fully with normal consciousness after a short time interval. Patients with incomplete recovery or a prolonged postictal state may require inpatient hospitalization.[29]

Inpatient management may be necessary if the clinical course is complicated by other medical problems requiring inpatient management. A short hospitalization may also be necessary for patients who are at risk of recurrent seizures and have no adequate supervision at home. Patients admitted from an emergency department had a 16.8% risk of an early recurrent seizure during their brief hospitalization.[35] This risk of early recurrent seizures was higher than reported in other studies.[9, 8, 10]

Guidelines

In 2015,the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American Epilepsy Society (AES) released a new guideline on the prognosis and treatment of first unprovoked seizures.[41, 42]

According to the guideline, immediate antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy, as compared with delay of treatment pending a second seizure, is likely to reduce recurrence risk within the first 2 years but may not improve quality of life. Clinicians’ recommendations whether to initiate immediate AED treatment after a first seizure should be based on individualized assessments that weigh the risk of recurrence against the AEs of AED therapy and that consider educated patient preferences. Patients should be advised that risk of AED adverse events (AEs) may range from 7-31% and that these AEs are likely predominantly mild and reversible.[41, 42]

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Anticonvulsant Therapy

Immediate anticonvulsant treatment reduces the likelihood of a second seizure by half.[8] According to a report by Chandra, valproate treatment reduced seizure recurrence rates from 63% to 4.3%.[43] However, immediate anticonvulsant therapy does not affect the long-term prognosis for achieving 1- or 2-year seizure-free remission and exposes many patients who would never have a recurrent seizure to anticonvulsant side effects.[23]

The general consensus is that anticonvulsant treatment is needed after 2 seizures. The decision to provide anticonvulsant treatment after 1 seizure should be individualized. Two situations that are often encountered in clinical practice and should be distinguished are a first seizure and new-onset epilepsy with more than 1 unprovoked seizure. Berg and Shinnar emphasized the need to distinguish between these 2 entities in clinical studies.[11]

Seizure recurrence risk is substantially higher after 2 or more unprovoked seizures than after just 1.[10]

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Eissa Ibrahim AlEissa, MD, MBBS Consultant Neurologist and Epileptologist, King Salman Hospital, Saudi Arabia

Eissa Ibrahim AlEissa, MD, MBBS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Epilepsy Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Selim R Benbadis, MD Professor, Director of Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Tampa General Hospital, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine

Selim R Benbadis, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Clinical Neurophysiology Society, American Epilepsy Society, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: Cyberonics; Eisai; Lundbeck; Sunovion; UCB; Upsher-Smith<br/>Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Cyberonics (Livanova); Eisai; Lundbeck; Sunovion; UCB<br/>Received research grant from: Cyberonics (Livanova); GW, Lundbeck; Sunovion; UCB; Upsher-Smith.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Jose E Cavazos, MD, PhD, FAAN, FANA, FACNS Professor with Tenure, Departments of Neurology, Pharmacology, and Physiology, Assistant Dean for the MD/PhD Program, Program Director of the Clinical Neurophysiology Fellowship, University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio; Co-Director, South Texas Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, University Hospital System; Director, San Antonio Veterans Affairs Epilepsy Center of Excellence and Neurodiagnostic Centers, Audie L Murphy Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Jose E Cavazos, MD, PhD, FAAN, FANA, FACNS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Clinical Neurophysiology Society, American Neurological Association, Society for Neuroscience, American Epilepsy Society

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: Brain Sentinel, consultant.<br/>Stakeholder (<5%), Co-founder for: Brain Sentinel.

Chief Editor

Selim R Benbadis, MD Professor, Director of Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Tampa General Hospital, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine

Selim R Benbadis, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Clinical Neurophysiology Society, American Epilepsy Society, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: Cyberonics; Eisai; Lundbeck; Sunovion; UCB; Upsher-Smith<br/>Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Cyberonics (Livanova); Eisai; Lundbeck; Sunovion; UCB<br/>Received research grant from: Cyberonics (Livanova); GW, Lundbeck; Sunovion; UCB; Upsher-Smith.

Additional Contributors

Anthony M Murro, MD Professor, Laboratory Director, Department of Neurology, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University

Anthony M Murro, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Epilepsy Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous author William J Nowack, MD, to the development and writing of the source article.

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An electroencephalogram (EEG) recording of a temporal lobe seizure. The ictal EEG pattern is shown in the rectangular areas.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) recording from a patient with primary generalized epilepsy. A burst of bilateral spike and wave discharge is shown in the rectangular area.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) recording of a seizure from a subdural array in a patient evaluated for epilepsy surgery. The subdural electrodes record from the left anterior temporal (LAT), left middle temporal (LMT), and left posterior temporal (LPT) regions. The EEG seizure pattern is seen best in bipolar EEG channels LAT 3-4 and LMT 3-4 (rectangular areas).
 
 
 
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