Status epilepticus in pregnancy - Can we frame a uniform treatment protocol?

Epilepsy Behav. 2019 Dec;101(Pt B):106376. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2019.06.020. Epub 2019 Jul 12.


Background: There is lack of uniform treatment protocol for status epilepticus (SE) in pregnancy, with majority of data being limited to individual cases or case series. Devising a uniform treatment protocol will facilitate prompt control of SE in pregnancy and reduce adverse maternal and fetal outcomes.

Methods: Literature search was done in various databases including PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, TRIP, and the gray literature, including relevant organizational websites, for the topics "Status Epilepticus" and "Pregnancy". English language original research articles, case reports, and systematic reviews that were published in the last 18 years (2000-2018) and addressed SE in relation to pregnancy (i.e., antepartum, labor, or postpartum) were considered for inclusion.

Results: Over the past 15 years, a total of seven articles reporting 29 cases of SE related to pregnancy, satisfying the inclusion criteria were analyzed. The most common cause of SE was posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES)/reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS) spectrum (n = 11, 38%), followed by cortical venous sinus thrombosis (CVT) and autoimmune encephalitis (n = 5, 17%). Twenty-three out of 29 cases (79%) had good maternal outcomes in terms of recovery to baseline. Seventeen fetuses (58%) were delivered at term and seven at preterm (2.4%). First-line agent used was lorazepam in 15 patients (52%) and midazolam in two patients (7%). The most common antiepileptic drug (AED) and anesthesia used for treatment of SE and refractory SE were phenytoin/fosphenytoin (n = 21, 72%) and midazolam (n = 12, 52%), respectively. In all cases due to eclampsia (n = 5), magnesium sulfate was the preferred first-line drug.

Conclusion: Management of SE in pregnancy is influenced by etiology of SE and duration of pregnancy. It carries a good prognosis if detected early and treated appropriately. Large-scale multicentric studies are warranted for formulating definite guidelines for management of SE in pregnancy. This article is part of the Special Issue "Proceedings of the 7th London-Innsbruck Colloquium on Status Epilepticus and Acute Seizures".

Keywords: Guideline; Outcome; Pregnancy; Status epilepticus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Posterior Leukoencephalopathy Syndrome / complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*
  • Status Epilepticus / etiology


  • Anticonvulsants