The NORSE (new-onset refractory status epilepticus) syndrome: defining a disease entity

Ann Acad Med Singap. 2005 Aug;34(7):417-20.


Introduction: To characterise a homogeneous group of patients with new-onset refractory status epilepticus (NORSE syndrome).

Materials and methods: This is a descriptive, semiprospective review of all cases of NORSE syndrome seen between 2000 and 2004 at a tertiary care public hospital in Singapore. A review of the literature was performed to identify possible additional similar cases for comparison.

Results: Seven patients with NORSE syndrome were identified. Characterising features were female gender, young age, previous good health, cerebrospinal fluid pleocytosis (in 4), antecedent febrile illness (in 5), extraordinarily prolonged status epilepticus (average 32 days), failure of extensive investigations to reveal an underlying cause, catastrophic outcome as well as temporal lobe and leptomeningeal abnormality on brain magnetic resonance imaging. A review of the literature identified 12 similar patients, comprising both adults and children.

Conclusions: Based on our patients and those described in the literature, we characterise the NORSE syndrome. Increased recognition of this clinical entity is needed to help delineate the underlying aetiology of this unique severe illness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Benzodiazepines / administration & dosage*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Singapore / epidemiology
  • Status Epilepticus / diagnosis*
  • Status Epilepticus / epidemiology*
  • Status Epilepticus / therapy
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Benzodiazepines