Methods of investigation and management of infections causing febrile seizures

Pediatr Neurol. 2008 Dec;39(6):381-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2008.07.017.


The management of febrile seizures is reviewed, with emphasis on methods of investigation and treatment of associated infections. Records of 100 consecutive febrile seizure patient-visits were examined retrospectively at an East Carolina University-affiliated hospital. Causes of fever and infection, viral and bacterial studies, antipyretic, antibiotic, and antiviral treatments, and indications for lumbar puncture were analyzed. Febrile seizures were first episodes in 64, simple in 76, and complex in 23 (prolonged, at 30-60 minutes, in 4). The mean age was 20 months. Viral studies in 26 patients were positive in 9 (35%). Bacterial cultures in 100 were positive in 5%, none from CSF. Antibiotics were prescribed in 65%, and antipyretics in 89%. Lumbar puncture was performed in 14 patients; 11 had complex seizures, and 3 simple. Of simple seizure patients, none was aged <12 months, and only 1 was aged <18 months at time of lumbar puncture. Clinical manifestations and complex seizures are the principal indications for lumbar puncture, and not patient age. Viral infection is the most common cause of fever, and bacterial infection is infrequent. Early viral diagnosis should lessen the emphasis on bacterial cultures, and lead to reduced use of empiric antibiotics.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Seizures, Febrile / diagnosis
  • Seizures, Febrile / microbiology*
  • Seizures, Febrile / therapy
  • Spinal Puncture / methods
  • Virus Diseases / complications