Neurological aspects of eclampsia

J Neurol Sci. 1998 Feb 18;155(1):37-43. doi: 10.1016/s0022-510x(97)00274-8.


Eclampsia accounts for a third of maternal mortality in developing countries. The neurological manifestations of eclampsia consist of seizures and alteration of sensorium or coma on a background of pre-eclampsia. Occasionally there can be focal neurological deficits too. Recent studies with CT scan and MRI have demonstrated the presence of cerebral edema and/or cerebral hemorrhage in eclampsia. EEG in patients with eclampsia has revealed evidence of diffuse cerebral dysfunction (delta waves) and epileptiform transients (spikes or sharp waves). There is also evidence of extensive vasculopathy within the brain parenchyma. A variety of mechanisms have been suggested to explain these changes, the most important being failure of autoregulation of cerebral blood flow that leads to cerebral edema and hemorrhage. There is considerable controversy regarding the treatment of seizures in eclampsia. Recent studies have shown that magnesium sulfate is superior to phenytoin or diazepam in the treatment of eclamptic seizures and prevention of eclamptic seizures in women with pre-eclampsia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coma / etiology*
  • Coma / therapy
  • Eclampsia / complications*
  • Eclampsia / diagnosis
  • Eclampsia / pathology
  • Eclampsia / physiopathology
  • Eclampsia / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Seizures / etiology*
  • Seizures / therapy