Diagnostic work-up and therapeutic options in management of pediatric status epilepticus

World J Pediatr. 2012 May;8(2):109-15. doi: 10.1007/s12519-012-0348-2. Epub 2012 May 10.


Background: Status epilepticus (SE) is a life-threatening neurologic disorder comprising prolonged and unremitting crisis, and two or more series of seizures without complete intercritical recovery.

Data sources: We reviewed the literature through a Pubmed/Medline research using key words including status epilepticus, antiepileptic drugs and children, in order to revise and compare international/national protocols and to examine pediatric guidelines in SE management.

Results: Neurologic impairment and SE etiology seem to be the most independent risks for mortality. A deep semiologic evaluation is essential to addressing diagnostic work-up. Ematochemical parameters, plasma levels of antiepileptic drugs and clinically oriented toxic/metabolic screening should be mandatory for investigating both causes and effects of SE. Electroencephalography is clearly helpful to characterize focal from generalized SE and to distinguish epileptic events from pseudoseizures, and it is deal to find nonconvulsive SE. Neuroimaging techniques could detect epileptogenic lesions (such as cortical malformations, tumors, demyelinating disorders or strokes) but are common in practice to find negative or controversial results. Pharmacologic management can be essentially arranged in three stages: benzodiazepines for early SE (lasting less than 30 minutes), phenytoin/fosphenytoin, phenobarbital, valproate, levetiracetam or lacosamide for established SE (30-90 minutes), and anesthetics for refractory SE (more than 90 minutes).

Conclusions: Status epilepticus is the most common neurologic emergency in childhood. A systematic diagnostic work-up and a three steps based therapeutic approach is required at this age.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Status Epilepticus / diagnosis*
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*