Prophylactic anticonvulsants for prevention of immediate and early postcraniotomy seizures

Surg Neurol. 1989 May;31(5):361-4. doi: 10.1016/0090-3019(89)90067-0.


Phenytoin (15 mg/kg) was administered intravenously to 189 patients shortly before their intracranial, supratentorial surgery was completed. Intravenous phenytoin of 5-6 mg/kg/day in three divided doses was administered daily for the first 3 postoperative days. Therapeutic serum levels (10-20 micrograms/mL) were achieved in 113 (59.8%) patients. An equally constituted, randomized control group of 185 patients received a placebo under identical conditions. The group receiving phenytoin had only one immediate and two early postoperative seizures. The 185 controls had four immediate and nine early postoperative seizures. None of the follow-up computed tomography scans of the patients with seizures showed postoperative hematoma. One patient had a significant tension pneumocranium, a possible cause of postoperative seizures. To avoid a decrease in the serum anticonvulsant level due to intraoperative blood loss, it is suggested that for patients who need an urgent or emergent craniotomy, prophylatic anticonvulsant medication should be given at least 20 minutes before completion of wound closure.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Craniotomy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Phenytoin / administration & dosage
  • Phenytoin / therapeutic use*
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Seizures / prevention & control*


  • Phenytoin