Levetiracetam versus lorazepam in status epilepticus: a randomized, open labeled pilot study

J Neurol. 2012 Apr;259(4):645-8. doi: 10.1007/s00415-011-6227-2. Epub 2011 Sep 6.


For the management of status epilepticus (SE), lorazepam (LOR) is recommended as the first and phenytoin or fosphenytoin as the second choice. Both these drugs have significant toxicity. Intravenous levetiracetam (LEV) has become available, but its efficacy and safety has not been reported in comparison to LOR. We report a randomized, open labeled pilot study comparing the efficacy and safety of LEV and LOR in SE. Consecutive patients with convulsive or subtle convulsive SE were randomized to LEV 20 mg/kg IV over 15 min or LOR 0.1 mg/kg over 2-4 min. Failure to control SE within 10 min of administration of one study drug was treated by the other study drug. The primary endpoint was clinical seizure cessation and secondary endpoints were 24 h freedom from seizure, hospital mortality, and adverse events. Our results are based on 79 patients. Both LEV and LOR were equally effective. In the first instance, the SE was controlled by LEV in 76.3% (29/38) and by LOR in 75.6% (31/41) of patients. In those resistant to the above regimen, LEV controlled SE in 70.0% (7/10) and LOR in 88.9% (8/9) patients. The 24-h freedom from seizure was also comparable: by LEV in 79.3% (23/29) and LOR in 67.7% (21/31). LOR was associated with significantly higher need of artificial ventilation and insignificantly higher frequency of hypotension. For the treatment of SE, LEV is an alternative to LOR and may be preferred in patients with respiratory compromise and hypotension.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Levetiracetam
  • Lorazepam / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Piracetam / analogs & derivatives*
  • Piracetam / therapeutic use
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Levetiracetam
  • Lorazepam
  • Piracetam