Clinical Issues in Acute Childhood Seizure Management in the Emergency Department

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Generalized tonic-clonic seizure activity in infants and children frequently leads to an emergency department visit, often after emergency medical service personnel, such as paramedics, provide initial evaluation and treatment. Important subsets of patients who present to the emergency department include those with non-seizure-mediated movements, those with nongeneralized seizure activity, those with complications of anticonvulsant therapy, and those with status epilepticus. Recognizing, diagnosing, and treating these conditions and minimizing complications are key issues to be considered in the refinement of emergency department practice. Of the children with seizures who are seen in the emergency department, those with febrile convulsions or exacerbations of underlying seizure disorders predominate, while those with new-onset epilepsy or other seizure disorders account for a smaller proportion. Current issues in the emergency department management of seizures in children include: (1) modifying interventions to stabilize patients and simultaneously minimize the physiologic deterioration accompanying generalized seizures; (2) selection, initiation, administration, and refinement of anticonvulsant therapy; (3) minimizing complications of prolonged seizures and their treatment; (4) rapid recognition and treatment of life-threatening illnesses that underlie seizure presentations; (5) selection of appropriate diagnostic measures; and (6) use of electroencephalography in selected patients. (J Child Neurol 1998;13(Suppl 1):S7-S10).

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