Prevalence of nonconvulsive status epilepticus in comatose patients

Neurology. 2000 Jan 25;54(2):340-5. doi: 10.1212/wnl.54.2.340.


Background: Nonconvulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) is a form of status epilepticus (SE) that is an often unrecognized cause of coma.

Objective: To evaluate the presence of NCSE in comatose patients with no clinical signs of seizure activity.

Methods: A total of 236 patients with coma and no overt clinical seizure activity were monitored with EEG as part of their coma evaluation. This study was conducted during our prospective evaluation of SE, where it has been validated that we identify over 95% of all SE cases at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals. Only cases that were found to have no clinical signs of SE were included in this study.

Results: EEG demonstrated that 8% of these patients met the criteria for the diagnosis of NCSE. The study included an age range from 1 month to 87 years.

Conclusion: This large-scale EEG evaluation of comatose patients without clinical signs of seizure activity found that NCSE is an underrecognized cause of coma, occurring in 8% of all comatose patients without signs of seizure activity. EEG should be included in the routine evaluation of comatose patients even if clinical seizure activity is not apparent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coma / diagnosis
  • Coma / epidemiology*
  • Coma / etiology
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia, Brain / complications
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Status Epilepticus / complications
  • Status Epilepticus / diagnosis
  • Status Epilepticus / epidemiology*