Prevalence of Early Posttraumatic Seizures in Children With Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Despite Levetiracetam Prophylaxis*

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To evaluate the prevalence of early seizures after levetiracetam prophylaxis in children with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury.


Prospective observational study.


Level 1 pediatric trauma center.


We enrolled 34 patients between the ages of 0–18 years with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury admitted to the PICU at a level 1 trauma center who received levetiracetam for early posttraumatic seizure prophylaxis.

Measurements and Main Results:

Primary outcome was the prevalence of early posttraumatic seizures that were defined as clinical seizures within 7 days of injury. In 6 of 34 patients (17%), clinical seizures developed despite levetiracetam prophylaxis. An additional two patients had nonconvulsive seizures. This prevalence is similar to that reported in the literature in this patient population who do not receive seizure prophylaxis (20–53%) and is higher than that in patients who receive phenytoin prophylaxis (2–15%). Patients with early posttraumatic seizures were younger (median age, 4 mo) (p < 0.001) and more likely to have suffered from abusive head trauma (p < 0.0004).


Early clinical posttraumatic seizures occurred frequently in children with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury despite seizure prophylaxis with levetiracetam. Younger children and those with abusive head trauma were at increased risk of seizures. Further studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of levetiracetam before it is routinely used for seizure prophylaxis in these children, particularly in young children and those who have suffered from abusive head trauma.

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