New-Onset Refractory Status Epilepticus in Children: Etiologies, Treatments, and Outcomes

Khalil S. Husari, Katherine Labiner, Rong Huang, Rana R. Said

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: To elucidate etiologies, treatment, functional and neurocognitive outcomes of children with new-onset refractory status epilepticus. Design: A single-center retrospective study. Setting: A tertiary care children's hospital. Patients: All patients between 1 month and 21 years old admitted with new-onset refractory status epilepticus between January 2004 and July 2017. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: Clinical presentation, laboratory data, imaging studies, and treatments were collected during hospitalization. Outcomes were assessed at hospital discharge and follow-up in the outpatient neurology clinic based on functional and neurocognitive outcomes as well as development of epilepsy. A total of 674 unique patients presented with status epilepticus of which 40 had new-onset refractory status epilepticus. Patients were classified into either refractory status epilepticus or super-refractory status epilepticus. The etiology of most children with new-onset refractory status epilepticus remained cryptogenic. The most common identified etiology was viral (20%). None of the patients had a contributory positive neuronal antibody test. Several treatments were tried including immunotherapy which was used in half of the patients. Five patients died (12.5%) during the acute phase of their disease, with four lost to follow-up. Twenty out of the remaining 31 patients (65%) developed epilepsy and 18 (58%) had persistent neurocognitive impairment. There was no statistical significant difference in various outcome measures and various etiologies, patients' characteristics, and treatments. Conclusions: In this single-center cohort, more than half of the children with new-onset refractory status epilepticus did not have an identifiable etiology. Unlike adult patients, the presence of positive neuronal antibody syndrome was rare. There was no difference in outcome between those with or without an identifiable etiology. As expected, patients with super-refractory status epilepticus had worse functional and neurocognitive outcomes. More standardized diagnostic and treatment algorithms are needed along with prospective multicenter studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • immunotherapy
  • new-onset refractory status epilepticus
  • pediatric status epilepticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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