Nonconvulsive status epilepticus in terminally ill patients-a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2008 Aug;36(2):200-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2007.10.006. Epub 2008 Apr 18.


Nonconvulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) is rarely considered as a cause of confusion in terminally ill patients. The clinical presentation varies from altered mental status to coma, without visible convulsions. Electroencephalogram is the most important diagnostic tool to identify epileptiform activity. Treatment should be initiated following a stepwise model, avoiding intubation and transfer to the intensive care unit. Although mortality rates are high, in some patients NCSE can be reversed by treatment. NCSE should be considered in a differential diagnosis of all terminally ill patients with sudden mental status changes. We present two cases and discuss treatment options and the borders of therapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsy, Generalized / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Terminal Care / methods*