Treatment of community-onset, childhood convulsive status epilepticus: a prospective, population-based study

Lancet Neurol. 2008 Aug;7(8):696-703. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70141-8. Epub 2008 Jul 2.


Background: Episodes of childhood convulsive status epilepticus (CSE) commonly start in the community. Treatment of CSE aims to minimise the length of seizures, treat the causes, and reduce adverse outcomes; however, there is a paucity of data on the treatment of childhood CSE. We report the findings from a systematic, population-based study on the treatment of community-onset childhood CSE.

Methods: We collected data prospectively on children in north London, UK, who had episodes of CSE (ascertainment 62-84%). The factors associated with seizure termination after first-line and second-line therapies, episodes of CSE lasting for longer than 60 min, and respiratory depression were analysed with logistic regression. Analysis was per protocol, and adjustment was made for repeat episodes in individuals.

Results: 182 children of median age 3.24 years (range 0.16-15.98 years) were included in the North London Convulsive Status Epilepticus in Childhood Surveillance Study (NLSTEPSS) between May, 2002, and April, 2004. 61% (147) of 240 episodes were treated prehospital, of which 32 (22%) episodes were terminated. Analysis with multivariable models showed that treatment with intravenous lorazepam (n=107) in the accident and emergency department was associated with a 3.7 times (95% CI 1.7-7.9) greater likelihood of seizure termination than was treatment with rectal diazepam (n=80). Treatment with intravenous phenytoin (n=32) as a second-line therapy was associated with a 9 times (95% CI 3-27) greater likelihood of seizure termination than was treatment with rectal paraldehyde (n=42). No treatment prehospital (odds ratio [OR] 2.4, 95% CI 1.2-4.5) and more than two doses of benzodiazepines (OR 3.6, 1.9-6.7) were associated with episodes that lasted for more than 60 min. Treatment with more than two doses of benzodiazepines was associated with respiratory depression (OR 2.9, 1.4-6.1). Children with intermittent CSE arrived at the accident and emergency department later after seizure onset than children with continuous CSE did (median 45 min [range 11-514 min] vs 30 min [5-90 min]; p<0.0001, Mann-Whitney U test); for each minute delay from onset of CSE to arrival at the accident and emergency department there was a 5% cumulative increase in the risk of the episode lasting more than 60 min.

Interpretation: These data add to the debate on optimum emergency treatment of childhood CSE and suggest that the current guidelines could be updated.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Planning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*
  • Status Epilepticus / epidemiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Anticonvulsants