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Original Investigation
May 28, 2019

Change in Mortality of Generalized Convulsive Status Epilepticus in High-Income Countries Over Time: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Homerton Row, London, England
  • 2University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, England
  • 3Preventive Neurology Unit, Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, England
  • 4National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore
  • 5Singapore General Hospital, Singapore
  • 6Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Alzheimer Centre Limburg, Maastricht, the Netherlands
JAMA Neurol. Published online May 28, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.1268
Key Points

Question  Has the mortality associated with convulsive status epilepticus (SE) changed over time?

Findings  This systematic review and meta-analysis of 61 SE studies conducted between 1990 and 2017 did not demonstrate definitive evidence of improved SE prognosis over time.

Meaning  Changes in definition and treatment approaches in high-income countries have not been significantly associated with the mortality of convulsive status epilepticus.


Importance  Status epilepticus (SE) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Since the late 1990s, a more aggressive management of prolonged convulsive seizures lasting longer than 5 minutes has been advocated.

Objective  To determine if convulsive SE mortality has decreased during a time of increasing advocacy for out-of-hospital treatment and escalating and earlier treatment protocols for prolonged seizures and SE.

Data Source  This systemic review and meta-analysis on studies focused on the mortality of convulsive status epilepticus was conducted by searching MEDLINE, Embase, PsychINFO, CINAHL Plus, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews between January 1, 1990, and June 30, 2017.

Study Selection  Studies were excluded if they had fewer than 30 participants (<20 for refractory SE), were limited to SE of single specific etiology or an evaluation of a single treatment modality, or were studies of nonconvulsive SE.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Data were abstracted and their quality was assessed via a modified Newcastle-Ottawa scale independently by 2 reviewers (A.N. and T.D.G.) using the Meta-analyses of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) guidelines. Data were pooled using a random-effects model.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The main outcome measure was in-hospital mortality or 30-day case fatality expressed as proportional mortality.

Results  Sixty-one studies were included in the analysis. The pooled mortality ratios were 15.9% (95% CI, 12.7-19.2) for adult studies, 13.0% (95% CI, 7.2-19.0) for all-age population studies, 3.6% (95% CI, 2.0%-5.2%) for pediatric studies, and 17.3% (95% CI, 9.8-24.7) for refractory SE studies, with very high between-study heterogeneity. We found no evidence of a change in prognosis over time nor by the definition of SE used.

Conclusions and Relevance  The mortality of convulsive SE is higher in adults than in children and there was no evidence for improved survival over time. Although there are many explanations for these findings, they can be explained by aetiology of SE being the major determinant of mortality. However, there are potential confounders, including differences in case ascertainment and study heterogeneity. This meta-analysis highlights the need for strict international guidelines for the study of this condition.