Epilepsy Emergencies: Status Epilepticus, Acute Repetitive Seizures, and Autoimmune Encephalitis

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2019 Apr;25(2):454-476. doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000716.


Purpose of review: This article reviews epilepsy emergencies, including status epilepticus, acute repetitive seizures, autoimmune encephalitis, and the current perspective on their diagnosis and treatment.

Recent findings: Recent guidelines on the treatment of status epilepticus from the Neurocritical Care Society in 2012 and the American Epilepsy Society in 2016 highlight areas of consensus in the treatment of status epilepticus as well as areas of uncertainty. The TRENdS (Treatment of Recurrent Electrographic Nonconvulsive Seizures) trial is the first prospective randomized clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of IV antiseizure medications in controlling nonconvulsive seizures on continuous EEG. It demonstrated that IV lacosamide is noninferior to fosphenytoin in this setting. Autoimmune encephalitis is an increasingly recognized cause of new-onset seizures or status epilepticus. Recently described scoring systems, the Antibody Prevalence in Epilepsy score and the Response to Immunotherapy in Epilepsy score, can help in the assessment of autoimmune encephalitis.

Summary: Status epilepticus, acute repetitive seizures, and autoimmune encephalitis are neurologic emergencies. For all these conditions, rapid and appropriate treatment may influence patient prognosis and mitigate neuronal injury. For convulsive status epilepticus, there is reasonable consensus on the initial steps that need to be taken. There is less agreement about the management of acute repetitive seizures and nonconvulsive status epilepticus. An increasingly recognized etiology of status epilepticus is autoimmune encephalitis, which may not be as rare as previously thought.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Emergencies
  • Encephalitis / diagnosis*
  • Encephalitis / drug therapy*
  • Hashimoto Disease / diagnosis*
  • Hashimoto Disease / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Recurrence
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / drug therapy*
  • Status Epilepticus / diagnosis*
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*

Supplementary concepts

  • Hashimoto's encephalitis