Outcomes after seizure recurrence in people with well-controlled epilepsy and the factors that influence it. The MRC Antiepileptic Drug Withdrawal Group

Epilepsia. 1996 Nov;37(11):1043-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1996.tb01023.x.


Purpose: To determine the risk of further seizures and probability of further remission after a first seizure recurrence in patients in remission of their epilepsy, and to examine the prognostic factors influencing this risk.

Methods: Continued follow-up of a cohort of 409 patients with a recurrence of seizures after randomization to the Medical Research Council (MRC) Antiepileptic Drug Withdrawal Study.

Results: By 3 years after a seizure, 95% of patients have experienced a further 1-year remission of their epilepsy and by 5 years 90% of patients have experienced a further 2-year remission. The most important factors contributing to the risk of further seizures after a first seizure after randomization were the previous seizure-free interval, having partial seizures at recurrence, and having previously experienced seizures while receiving treatment. There was no evidence that the group of patients who had discontinued or reduced treatment before the occurrence of their first seizure after randomization had a different outcome from those patients who continued treatment.

Conclusion: Our results provide no evidence that discontinuation of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) modifies the long-term prognosis of a person's epilepsy, although it does increase the risk of seizures in the 1- to 2-year period after discontinuation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prognosis
  • Random Allocation
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticonvulsants