High-dose midazolam infusion for refractory status epilepticus

Neurology. 2014 Jan 28;82(4):359-65. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000054. Epub 2013 Dec 20.


Objective: This study compares 2 treatment protocols allowing low vs high continuous IV midazolam (cIV-MDZ) doses.

Methods: We compared adults with refractory status epilepticus treated with a protocol allowing for high-dose cIV-MDZ (n = 100; 2002-2011) with those treated with the previous lower-dose cIV-MDZ (n = 29; 1996-2000). We collected data on baseline characteristics, cIV-MDZ doses, seizure control, hospital course, and outcome.

Results: Median maximum cIV-MDZ dose was 0.4 mg/kg/h (interquartile range [IQR] 0.2, 1.0) for the high-dose group and 0.2 mg/kg/h (IQR 0.1, 0.3) for the low-dose group (p < 0.001) with similar duration of infusion. Median time from status epilepticus onset to cIV-MDZ start was 1 day (IQR 1, 3) for the high-dose group and 2 days (IQR 1, 5) for the low-dose group (p = 0.016). "Withdrawal seizures" (occurring within 48 hours of discontinuation of cIV-MDZ) were less frequent in the high-dose group (15% vs 64%, odds ratio 0.10, 95% confidence interval 0.03-0.27). "Ultimate cIV-MDZ failure" (patients requiring change to a different cIV antiepileptic medication) and hospital complications were not different between groups. Hypotension was more frequent with higher cIV-MDZ doses but was not associated with worse outcome. Discharge mortality was lower in the high-dose group (40% vs 62%, odds ratio 0.34, 95% confidence interval 0.13-0.92 in multivariate analysis).

Conclusions: High-dose cIV-MDZ treatment of refractory status epilepticus can be performed safely, is associated with a lower seizure rate after cIV-MDZ discontinuation, and may be associated with lower mortality than traditional lower-dose protocols.

Classification of evidence: This study provides Class III evidence that midazolam at higher infusion rates is associated with a reduction in seizure recurrence within 48 hours after discontinuation and may be associated with lower mortality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Midazolam / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Status Epilepticus / diagnosis
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Midazolam