Emergency management of pediatric convulsive status epilepticus: a multicenter study of 542 patients

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2009 Feb;25(2):83-7. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e318196ea6e.


Objective: To perform a multicenter study examining the presentations and emergency management of children with convulsive status epilepticus (CSE) to sites within the Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative.

Methods: Retrospective review of children presenting to emergency departments (EDs) with convulsive seizures of at least 10 minutes' duration. Eight sites within the Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative network in Australia and New Zealand participated. Patients were identified through a search of ED electronic records for the period January 2000 to December 2004.

Results: Data were obtained from 542 eligible episodes of CSE. Demographics and seizure history were similar across all sites. One third of children with CSE presented with their first seizure. A preexisting diagnosis that predisposed to seizures was present in 59%. Median duration of seizures before hospitalization was 45 minutes, and median duration of treatment in ED before termination was 30 minutes. Prehospital duration did not seem to influence the timing of key ED interventions such as the administration of second-line anticonvulsants or progression to rapid sequence induction (RSI) of anesthesia and intubation. Convulsive status epilepticus was terminated after first-line treatment in 42%, second-line treatment in 35%, and RSI in 22%. One third of the patients had persistent seizure activity beyond 40 minutes of ED treatment. Marked variation in the use of RSI for refractory seizures was observed between sites.

Conclusions: Convulsive status epilepticus is an important neurological emergency, with many children experiencing prolonged seizures in both the prehospital and hospital phases. Persistent seizure activity beyond 40 minutes contrasts with current published guidelines. There is a need to adopt a widely accepted approach to the management of children who fail to respond to standard anticonvulsant therapy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Male
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Status Epilepticus / epidemiology
  • Status Epilepticus / etiology
  • Status Epilepticus / therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Anticonvulsants