SUDEP, suspected positional airway obstruction, and hypoventilation in postictal coma

Epilepsia. 2010 Nov;51(11):2344-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2010.02719.x. Epub 2010 Sep 24.


Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the leading cause of mortality in patients with chronic uncontrolled epilepsy. Despite intense interest in SUDEP from the medical and scientific communities in recent years, its etiologies are still largely unresolved. A 35-year-old woman had SUDEP after having a generalized seizure in the prone position. The cause of her death was likely asphyxia from the convergence of postictal coma and suspected positional airway obstruction and hypoventilation, rather than the commonly suspected periictal cardiac arrhythmia or central apnea. SUDEP may share a similar etiology with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and is likely preventable, at least in a proportion of cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis*
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Airway Obstruction / mortality*
  • Asphyxia / etiology
  • Asphyxia / mortality
  • Cause of Death
  • Coma / diagnosis*
  • Coma / etiology
  • Coma / mortality*
  • Death, Sudden / epidemiology*
  • Death, Sudden / etiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoventilation / diagnosis*
  • Hypoventilation / etiology
  • Hypoventilation / mortality*
  • Prone Position*
  • Risk Factors
  • Video Recording