Causes, prevention, and treatment of post-traumatic epilepsy

New Horiz. 1995 Aug;3(3):518-22.


Post-traumatic seizures often occur after severe head injury. Acutely, these seizures complicate management of the head-injured patient by increasing intracranial pressure and causing postictal decreases in level of consciousness. In the long term, epilepsy can have a negative effect on the patient's functioning and integration into society. The more severe the head injury, the more likely that post-traumatic seizures will occur. The risk of late seizures exceeds 30% for patients with penetrating head injury, intracerebral hematoma, subdural hematoma, depressed skull fracture, or seizure within the first week after injury. Late post-traumatic seizures are treated the same as any epileptic seizures of the same type. Phenytoin and carbamazepine are effective in preventing seizures in the first week after head injury, but are not effective in preventing late seizures. Both additional antiepileptic drugs and neuroprotective agents that may lessen the damage that leads to seizures are being investigated to determine if they are effective in preventing the occurrence of post-traumatic epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications*
  • Epilepsy, Post-Traumatic* / complications
  • Epilepsy, Post-Traumatic* / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Post-Traumatic* / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy, Post-Traumatic* / etiology
  • Epilepsy, Post-Traumatic* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Pressure
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Anticonvulsants