Status Epilepticus, Refractory Status Epilepticus, and Super-refractory Status Epilepticus

Sarah E. Nelson, Panayiotis N. Varelas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Status epilepticus, refractory status epilepticus, and super-refractory status epilepticus can be life-threatening conditions. This article presents an overview of the three conditions and discusses their management and outcomes. Recent Findings: Status epilepticus was previously defined as lasting for 30 minutes or longer but now is more often defined as lasting 5 minutes or longer. A variety of potential causes exist for status epilepticus, refractory status epilepticus, and super-refractory status epilepticus, but all three ultimately involve changes at the cellular and molecular level. Management of patients with status epilepticus generally requires several studies, with EEG of utmost importance given the pathophysiologic changes that can occur during the course of status epilepticus. Status epilepticus is treated with benzodiazepines as first-line antiepileptic drugs, followed by phenytoin, valproic acid, or levetiracetam. If status epilepticus does not resolve, these are followed by an IV anesthetic and then alternative therapies based on limited data/evidence, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, therapeutic hypothermia, immunomodulatory agents, and the ketogenic diet. Scores have been developed to help predict the outcome of status epilepticus. Neurologic injury and outcome seem to worsen as the duration of status epilepticus increases, with outcomes generally worse in super-refractory status epilepticus compared to status epilepticus and sometimes also to refractory status epilepticus. Summary: Status epilepticus can be a life-threatening condition associated with multiple complications, including death, and can progress to refractory status epilepticus and super-refractory status epilepticus. More studies are needed to delineate the best management of these three entities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1683-1707
Number of pages25
JournalCONTINUUM Lifelong Learning in Neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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