Causes of death in status epilepticus

Maximiliano A. Hawkes, Stephen W. English, Jay N. Mandrekar, Alejandro A. Rabinstein, Sara Hocker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine the causes of death in patients with status epilepticus. To analyze the relative contributions of seizure etiology, seizure refractoriness, use of mechanical ventilation, anesthetic drugs for seizure control, and medical complications to in-hospital and 90-day mortality, hospital length of stay, and discharge disposition. Design: Retrospective cohort. Setting: Single-center neuroscience ICU. Participants: Patients with status epilepticus were identified by retrospective search of electronic database from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2016. Interventions: Review of electronic medical records. Measurements and Main Results: Demographics, clinical characteristics, treatments, and outcomes were collected. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis were used to determine whether the use of anesthetic drugs, mechanical ventilation, Status Epilepticus Severity Score, refractoriness of seizures, etiology of seizures, or medical complications were associated with in-hospital, 90-day mortality or discharge disposition. Among 244 patients with status epilepticus (mean age was 64 yr [interquartile range, 42-76], 55% male, median Status Epilepticus Severity Score 3 [interquartile range, 2-4]), 24 received anesthetic drug infusions for seizure control. In-hospital and 90-day mortality rates were 9.2% and 19.2%, respectively. Death was preceded by withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in 19 patients (86.3%) and cardiac arrest in three (13.7%). Only Status Epilepticus Severity Score was associated with in-hospital and 90-day mortality, whereas the use of anesthetic drugs for seizure control, mechanical ventilation, medical complications, etiology, and refractoriness of seizures were not. Hospital length of stay was longer in patients with medical complications (p = 0.0091), refractory seizures (p = 0.0077), and in those who required anesthetic drugs for seizure control (p = 0.0035). Patients who had refractory seizures were less likely to be discharged home (odds ratio, 0.295; CI, 0.143-0.608; p = 0.0009). Conclusions: In this cohort, death primarily resulted from the underlying neurologic disease and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and not from our treatment choices. Use of anesthetic drugs, medical complications, and mechanical ventilation were not associated with in-hospital and 90-day mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1226-1231
Number of pages6
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthetics
  • Death
  • Outcomes
  • Status epilepticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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