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Refractory seizures or status epilepticus (RS/SE) continues to be a challenge in the inpatient setting. Failure to abort a seizure with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) may lead to intubation and treatment with general anesthesia exposing patients to complications, extending hospitalization, and increasing the cost of care. Studies have shown a key role of inflammatory mediators in seizure generation and termination. We describe 4 patients with RS/SE that was aborted when dexamethasone was added to conventional AEDs: a 61-year-old female with temporal lobe epilepsy who presented with delirium, nonconvulsive status epilepticus, and oculomyoclonic status; a 56-year-old female with history of traumatic left frontal lobe hemorrhage who developed right face and hand epilepsia partialis continua followed by refractory focal clonic seizures; a 51-year-old male with history of traumatic intracranial hemorrhage who exhibited left-sided epilepsia partialis continua; and a 75-year-old female with history of breast cancer who manifested nonconvulsive status epilepticus and refractory focal clonic seizures. All patients continued experiencing RS/SE despite first- and second-line therapy, and one patient continued to experience RS/SE despite third-line therapy. Failure to abort RS/SE with conventional therapy motivated us to administer intravenous dexamethasone. A 10-mg load was given (except in one patient) followed by 4.0- 5.2 mg q6h. All clinical and electrographic seizures stopped 3-4 days after starting dexamethasone. When dexamethasone was discontinued 1-3 days after seizures stopped, all patients remained seizure-free on 2-3 AEDs. The cessation of RS/SE when dexamethasone was added to conventional antiseizure therapy suggests that inflammatory processes are involved in the pathogenesis of RS/SE.


© 2019 American Federation for

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publication Title

Journal of investigative medicine high impact case reports



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Mentor/PI Department


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Neurology Commons



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