Seizure exacerbation with anti-seizure medications in adult patients with epilepsy

Epilepsy Res. 2022 Mar;181:106885. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2022.106885. Epub 2022 Feb 15.


There are numerous reports of seizure exacerbation related to specific anti-seizure medications (ASMs); however, a quantitative analysis with clearly defined parameters for seizure exacerbation in an outpatient setting is lacking. This retrospective study examines adult patients starting a single ASM and follows patient outcomes over the course of treatment, with quantitative evaluation of the incidence of paradoxical seizure exacerbation. In this study, outpatient encounters with five epileptologists at the Baylor College of Medicine Comprehensive Epilepsy Center were evaluated over a 10-month period. Seizure exacerbation was defined as an increase in seizure frequency at least 2 times greater than the baseline seizure frequency after initiation of an ASM, with return to baseline after ASM discontinuation. Patients were stratified into four categories: (1) probable ASM-induced seizure exacerbation; (2) possible ASM-induced seizure exacerbation; (3) non-ASM induced seizure exacerbation; or (4) no seizure exacerbation. Out of a total of 236 encounters where an ASM was initiated, we found that 5.5% of patients experienced some form of seizure exacerbation. However, only 1.3% of patients had probable ASM-induced seizure exacerbation. Consistent with prior studies, our data indicate seizure exacerbation in adults is rare with the initiation of ASMs. However, further studies with a larger sample size are necessary to better understand what factors may predispose patients to potential medication-induced seizure exacerbation.

Keywords: Anti-seizure medications; Epilepsy; Focal Epilepsy; Generalized Epilepsy; Seizure exacerbation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants* / adverse effects
  • Epilepsy* / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / drug therapy


  • Anticonvulsants