Neurocritical Care

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 109–113 | Cite as

Phenytoin, Levetiracetam, and Pregabalin in the Acute Management of Refractory Status Epilepticus in Patients with Brain Tumors

  • Christa B. Swisher
  • Meghana Doreswamy
  • Krista J. Gingrich
  • James J. Vredenburgh
  • Brad J. KollsEmail author
Original Article



There were nearly 700,000 patients in the United States in 2010 living with brain tumor diagnoses. The incidence of seizures in this population is as high as 70% and is historically difficult to control. Approximately 30–40% of brain tumors patients who present with status epilepticus (SE) will not respond to typical therapy consisting of benzodiazepines and phenytoin (PHT), resulting in patients with refractory status epilepticus (RSE). RSE is usually treated with anesthetic doses of propofol or midazolam infusions. This therapy can have significant risk, particularly in patients with cancer.


A retrospective chart review was performed on 23 patients with primary or metastatic brain tumors whose SE was treated with intravenous PHT, levetiracetam (LEV), and oral pregabalin (PGB).


In all the patients under study, PHT or LEV was used as first-line therapy. PGB was typically used as third-line treatment. The median daily dose of PGB was 375 mg (usually divided BID or TID), and the median daily dose of LEV 3000 mg (usually divided BID). Cessation of SE was seen in 16/23 (70%) after administration of PHT, LEV, and PGB. SE was aborted, on average, 24 h after addition of the third antiepileptic drug. Only one patient in the responder group required intubation. Mortality rate was zero in the responder group. No adverse reactions to this medication regimen were observed.


Our study suggests that the administration of PHT, LEV, and PGB in brain tumor patients with RSE is safe and highly effective.


Refractory status epilepticus Status epilepticus Brain tumor Phenytoin Levetiracetam Pregabalin 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christa B. Swisher
    • 1
  • Meghana Doreswamy
    • 1
  • Krista J. Gingrich
    • 1
  • James J. Vredenburgh
    • 1
  • Brad J. Kolls
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Neurology, Department of MedicineDuke University Medical Center (DUMC)DurhamUSA

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