Background: Seizures occur in 10–20% of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), predominantly in the acute phase. However, anticonvulsant prophylaxis remains controversial, with studies suggesting a brief course may be adequate and longer exposure may be associated with worse outcomes. Nonetheless, in the absence of controlled trials to inform practice, patients continue to receive variable chemoprophylaxis. The objective of this study was to compare brief versus extended seizure prophylaxis after aneurysmal SAH. Methods: We performed a prospective, single-center, randomized, open-label trial of a brief (3-day) course of levetiracetam (LEV) versus extended treatment (until hospital discharge). The primary outcome was in-hospital seizure. Secondary outcomes included drug discontinuation and functional outcome. Results: Eighty-four SAH patients had been randomized when the trial was terminated due to slow enrollment. In-hospital seizures occurred in three (9%) of 35 in the brief LEV group versus one (2%) of 49 in the extended group (p = 0.2). Ten (20%) of the extended group discontinued LEV prematurely, primarily due to sedation. Four of five seizures (including one pre-randomization) occurred in patients with early brain injury (EBI) on computed tomography (CT) scans (adjusted OR 12.5, 95% CI 1.2–122, p = 0.03). Good functional outcome (mRS 0–2) was more likely in the brief LEV group (83 vs. 61%, p = 0.04). Conclusions: This study was underpowered to demonstrate superiority of extended LEV for seizure prophylaxis, although a trend to benefit was seen. Seizures primarily occurred in those with radiographic EBI, suggesting targeted prophylaxis may be preferable. Larger trials are required to evaluate optimal chemoprophylaxis in SAH, especially in light of worse outcomes in those receiving extended treatment.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage