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Clinical significance of treatment delay in status epilepticus

Jonas Hillman1, Kai Lehtimäki2, Jukka Peltola3 and Suvi Liimatainen34*

Author Affiliations

1 Medical School, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

2 Department of Neurosurgery, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland

3 Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation, Tampere University Hospital, P.O. Box 2000, 33521, Tampere, Finland

4 Department of Emergency Medicine Acuta and Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland

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International Journal of Emergency Medicine 2013, 6:6  doi:10.1186/1865-1380-6-6

Published: 27 February 2013



Status epilepticus (SE) is a medical emergency that requires immediate action. The clinical and demographic features of SE are known to be highly variable. The objective of this study was to analyze the effect of treatment delays on patient recovery and different clinical factors that are important in the determination of the acute prognosis in SE.


This population-based study included 109 consecutive visits of patients with the diagnosis of SE in the emergency department (ED) of Tampere University Hospital. The clinical features of SE were compared with the discharge condition.


The treatment delays were long; in half of the patients, the delay for paramedic arrival was over 30 min, and in one-third of the cases, the delay was over 24 h. ED patients who had less than 1 h of delay before the administration of an antiepileptic drug (AED) had better outcomes compared to patients with a greater than 1 h delay (p < 0.05). The two major etiologies for the SE were cerebrovascular disease and alcohol misuse. A good immediate outcome was found in 46% of the patients. Epileptiform activity on the EEG, a history of epilepsy or SE, presence of cardiovascular disease, and alcohol misuse were associated with a poor outcome.


The results of this study emphasize the importance of an urgent response by emergency services and proper recognition of atypical phenotypes of SE.

Status epilepticus; Prolonged seizure; Emergency; Treatment delay; Antiepileptic drug