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May 1990

Seizure Risk With Recurrent Alcohol Detoxification

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology (Dr Lechtenberg) and Alcoholism Services (Dr Worner), Long Island College Hospital; and Health Science Center at Brooklyn, State University of New York (Dr Lechtenberg).

Arch Neurol. 1990;47(5):535-538. doi:10.1001/archneur.1990.00530050055012

• To determine if there is an increase in the risk of seizure activity when patients experience recurrent alcohol detoxifications, we reviewed the detoxification and seizure histories of 256 men and 45 women voluntarily admitted to a 5-day inpatient detoxification program. Structural brain damage, focal neurologic deficits, epileptogenic findings on electroencephalograms, and provocative drug use were all considered pertinent variables for seizure risk. Seizures did not occur during alcohol detoxification in any of the study patients, despite a high incidence of antecedent seizures and provocative drug use. Oral chlordiazepoxide use during detoxification was associated with the elimination of withdrawal seizures. Of all 301 patients, 64 had a history of seizures, 42 had significantly abnormal electroencephalograms during detoxification, and 30 had focal slowing on the electroencephalogram. There was no correlation between the duration of alcohol abuse or lifetime consumption of alcohol and seizure activity. There was, however, a significant correlation between the number of inpatient alcohol detoxifications and the prevalence of seizure disorders. This correlation held true even when provocative drug use was taken into consideration.

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