Utility of Obtaining a Serum Basic Metabolic Panel in the Setting of a First-Time Nonfebrile Seizure

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Abstract

New-onset nonfebrile seizures in an otherwise healthy child are common, affecting 25 000 to 40 000 U.S. children annually. We hypothesized seizure-provoking electrolyte disturbances such as hyponatremia, hypoglycemia, and hypocalcemia are uncommon in these children. From January 1, 2009 to May 31, 2009, 358 children aged 29 days to 18 years with a diagnosis code of 780.39 (“other convulsions” including “first time seizure,” etc) were included for potential retrospective review. Children with known epilepsy and febrile seizures were excluded. Electrolytes were obtained in nearly all children with a history suggestive of an underlying abnormality (13 of 14, 93%) but also in half of children with a reassuring history (62 of 119, 52%). No child with an unremarkable history and exam was found to have electrolyte abnormalities falling below levels most likely to be associated with acute symptomatic seizures. Electrolytes are unlikely to be abnormal in an otherwise well-appearing child after a first-time nonfebrile seizure.

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