UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Pediatric Status Epilepticus

Posted: 8/26/2009 by Rose Chasm, MD (Emailed: 8/27/2009) (Updated: 12/5/2021)
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  • Status epilepticus is defined as either a continuous convulsion or serial convulsions without loss of consciousness that lasts 30 minutes.
  • First line treatment:  benzodiazepine because it is absorbed rapidly into the nervous system; lorazepam (0.05 to 0.1 mg/kg) is preferred over diazepam (0.2 to 0.5 mg/kg) because of its longer half-life in the CNS; rectal administration of the intravenous formulation or the commercially available gel at the same doses may be subsitutued if no IV is attainable.
  • if seizure activity persists beyond 10 - 15 min, a longer acting anticonvulsant such as phenytoin (18 -20 mg/kg), fosphenytoin, or phenobarbital (18 - 20 mg/kg) is administered; they take longer to penetrate the CNS, but have much longer half-lives than the benzodiazepines.  Phenobarbital is given to infants while phenytoin or fosphenytoin is given to older children.
  • Fosphenytoin, a prodrug to phenytoin, increasingly is replacing phenytoin as the drug of choice.  It can be administered at two to three times the rate of phenytoin and is less caustic to skin in teh event of vein extravasation.  It can als be given intramuscularly, while phenytoin can't.



Haslam RH. Seizures in childhood. In: Behrman RE, Kliegman RM, Jenson HB, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 16th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co, 2000;1813-1829

Sabo-Graham T, Seay AR. Managemnt of status epilepticus in children. Pediatr Rev. 1998;19:306-309