History of Status Epilepticus

  • Peter W. KaplanEmail author
  • Eugen Trinka
Part of the Current Clinical Neurology book series (CCNEU)


The earliest references to ongoing seizure activity or status epilepticus appear in cuneiform, biblical, Roman, and Medieval sources. Prior to the use of EEG, written accounts centered on the behavioral changes and confusion (particularly with nonconvulsive states), which because of their proximity to convulsive seizures, were often inferred to reflect ongoing epileptic activity. Most clinical descriptions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries emerged from neurological observations being made in England, France, and Germany. A clearer understanding of the types of status epilepticus arose from clinical-EEG correlations beginning in the 1940s and 1950s, and observations from prolonged cine or video-EEG monitoring in epilepsy monitoring units and intensive care units over the last 40 years. There has been an increasing understanding that clinical outcome largely depends on the etiology of the status epilepticus. With the development of parenteral anti-seizure drugs, benzodiazepines, and anesthetic agents, and the improved supportive care measures available in ICUs, the morbidity and mortality from status epilepticus have fallen over the past 50 years, and newer therapeutic approaches and diagnostic methods continue to emerge.


History of status epilepticus Electroencephalography EEG Clinic-EEG correlation Video-EEG Intensive care Parenteral anti-seizure medications 


  1. 1.
    Sakikku cuneiform tablet XXV–XXVI (obverse) 629–539 BC. In: Kinnier-Wilson JV, translator. London: The British Museum.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Caelius Aureliarus. On acute diseases and on chronic diseases. In: Drabkin IE, editor and translator. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 1950.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Temkin O, editor. The falling sickness: a history of epilepsy from the Greeks to the beginnings of modern neurology. 2nd ed. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins Press; 1971.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Shorvon S. Status epilepticus: its clinical features and treatment in children and adults. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 1994. p. 1–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hunter RA. Status epilepticus; history, incidence and problems. Epilepsia. 1959;1(1–5):162–88.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Calmeil LF. De l’épilepsie. étudiée sous le rapport de son siège et de son influence sur la production de l’aliénation mentale. Paris: Thèse de Université de Paris; 1824.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Trousseau A. Lectures on clinical medicine delivered at the Hôtel Dieu, Paris, vol. 1. In: Bazire PV, translator. London: New Sydenham Society; 1868.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wolf P, Trinka E, Bauer G. Absence status epilepticus: the first documented case? Epilepsia. 2007;48(Suppl 8):4–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bright R. Reports of medical cases, selected with a view of illustrating the symptoms and cure of diseases by a reference to morbid anatomy, vol. 2. London: Taylor; 1831.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Charcot JM. Clinical lectures on the diseases of the nervous system. In: Savill T, translator. London: New Sydenham Society; 1889.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    West WJ. On a peculiar form of infantile convulsions. Lancet. 1841;35(911):724–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Jackson JH. A study of convulsions. St Andrews medical graduates’ association transactions, vol. 3. 1869. p. 162–204.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gowers WR. Epilepsy and other chronic convulsive diseases. London: Churchill; 1881.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kojewnikoff AY. A particular type of cortical epilepsy. In: Asher DM, translator, Andermann F, editor. Chronic encephalitis and epilepsy: rasmussen’s syndrome. London: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1985. p. 245–62.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Binswanger O. Die Epilepsie. Wien: Hölder; 1899.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Clark LP, Prout TP. Status epilepticus: a clinical and pathological study in epilepsy (an article in 3 parts). Am J Insanity. 1903/4; 60:291–306; 60:645–75; 61:81–108.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Obersteiner H. Über den status epilepticus. Wien Med Wochenschr. 1873;23:544.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Prichard JC. A treatise on diseases of the nervous system, vol. 1. London: Underwood; 1822. p. 99–100.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Wilks S. Lectures on diseases of the nervous system. London: Churchill; 1878.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Falret JP. De l’état mental des épileptiques. Archives Générales de Médecine, 5th Series 1860;16:661–79; 1861;17:461–49.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Höring CF. Über Epilepsie. Dissertation unter dem Praesidium von Dr. W. Griesinger. Tübingen; 1859.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Goetz CG. Charcot the clinician: the tuesday lessons. New York: Raven Press; 1987.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Berger H. Über das Elektrenephalogramm des Menschen, Siebente Mitteilung. Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten. 1933;933(100):301–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gastaut H, Roger A. Sur la signification de certain fugues épileptiques: état de mal temporal. Rev Neurol. 1956;94:298–301.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Gibbs FA, Gibbs EL, Lennox WG. Epilepsy: a paroxysmal cerebral dysrhythmia. Brain. 1937;60:377–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Lennox WG. The petit mal epilepsies: their treatment with tridione. JAMA. 1945;129(16):1069–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Whitty CW, Taylor M. Treatment of status epilepticus. Lancet. 1949;2(6579):591–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Janz D. “Nacht-” oder “Schlaf”-Epilepsien als Ausdruck einer Verlaufsform epileptischer Erkrankungen. Nervenarzt. 1953;24:361.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Janz D. Status epilepticus and frontal lobe lesions. J Neurol Sci. 1964;1(5):446–57.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Gastaut H, Roger J, Lob H, editors. Les états de mal épileptique: compte rendu de la réunion européenne d’information électroencéphalographique, Xth Colloque de Marseille 1962. Paris: Masson; 1967.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Wallis W, Knutt H, McDowell F. Intravenous diphenylhydantoin treatment of acute repetitive seizures. Neurology. 1968;18(6):513–25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Taverner D, Bain WA. Intravenous lidocaine as an anticonvulsant in status epilepticus and serial epilepsy. Lancet. 1958;2(7057):1145–57.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyJohns Hopkins Bayview Medical CenterBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyChristian Doppler Klinik Salzburg, Paracelsus Medical UniversitySalzburgAustria

Personalised recommendations