J Emerg Med. 2023 Jun 5:S0736-4679(23)00306-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2023.05.012. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Status epilepticus is associated with significant morbidity and mortality and is divided into convulsive status epilepticus and nonconvulsive status epilepticus (NCSE).
OBJECTIVE: This review provides a focused evaluation of NCSE for emergency clinicians.
DISCUSSION: NCSE is a form of status epilepticus presenting with prolonged seizure activity. This disease is underdiagnosed, as it presents with nonspecific signs and symptoms, most commonly change in mental status without overt convulsive motor activity. Causes include epilepsy, cerebral pathology or injury, any systemic insult such as infection, and drugs or toxins. Mortality is primarily related to the underlying condition. Patients most commonly present with altered mental status, but other signs and symptoms include abnormal ocular movements and automatisms such as lip smacking or subtle motor twitches in the face or extremities. The diagnosis is divided into electrographic and electroclinical, and although electroencephalogram (EEG) is recommended for definitive diagnosis, emergency clinicians should consider this disease in patients with prolonged postictal state after a seizure with no improvement in mental status, altered mental status with acute cerebral pathology (e.g., stroke, hypoxic brain injury), and unexplained altered mental status. Assessment includes laboratory evaluation and neuroimaging with EEG. Management includes treating life-threatening conditions, including compromise of the airway, hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, and hypo- or hyperthermia, followed by rapid cessation of the seizure activity with benzodiazepines and other antiseizure medications.
CONCLUSIONS: An understanding of the presentation and management of NCSE can assist emergency clinicians in the care of these patients.