Anesthetic implications of epilepsy, status epilepticus, and epilepsy surgery

W. Andrew Kofke, René Tempelhoff, Richard M. Dasheiff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Epilepsy is a clinical paroxysmal disorder of recurring seizures, excluding alcohol or drug withdrawal seizures or such recurring exogenous events as repeated insulin-induced hypoglycemia. Epilepsy has a profound impact on each individual diagnosed with this disease. Seizures have been and are thought to arise as a result of abnormalities in (a) neural circuits, (b) excitation/inhibition balance, (c) potassium, and (d) genetic abnormalities. Therapy for epilepsy is either medical, entailing the use of a variety of antiepileptic drugs, or surgical. An urgent approach to seizure control is indicated when status epilepticus occurs. When all standard therapy fails, general anesthesia can be used to control status epilepticus. Surgery is an option in the treatment of epilepsy and requires extensive preoperative evaluation. The primary concerns for the neuroanesthesiologist anesthetizing the patient with epilepsy are the capacity of anesthetics to modulate or potentiate seizure activity and the interaction of anesthetic drugs with antiepileptic drugs. Proconvulsant and anticonvulsant properties have been reported for nearly every anesthetic. If seizure spikes are to be evoked during seizure surgery, then light anesthesia with a proconvulsant anesthetic is used. Conscious analgesia can be used for awake seizure surgery. However, if electrocorticography is not planned, then a general anticonvulsant anesthetic maintenance regimen is used. The latter technique also may be useful in patients whose anesthetic management is complicated by an incidental history of epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-372
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Anesthetic techniques
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Brain
  • Complications
  • Epilepsy
  • Surgery


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