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Efficacy and safety of lidocaine for treatment of neonatal seizures




Treatment of neonatal seizures still relies primarily on phenobarbital, despite an estimated efficacy of less than 50% and concern over neurodegenerative side effects. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of lidocaine as second-line treatment of neonatal seizures in infants following benzodiazepine treatment but without previous treatment with phenobarbital.


In a 10-year cohort, a retrospective chart review was conducted for all infants (gestational age  ≥ 37 w, age ≤ 28 days) who had received lidocaine as second-line treatment of neonatal seizures prior to treatment with phenobarbital between January 2000 and June 2010. Infants were included if they had electroencephalographic seizures.


Cessation of seizure activity was seen in 16 of 30 infants based on clinical and electroencephalographic features, and a probable response was seen in an additional 3 of 30 patients. Suspected adverse effects were seen in only one patient, who developed a transient bradycardia.


Lidocaine has a moderate efficacy as second-line therapy following benzodiazepines for treating neonatal seizures and is not frequently associated with cardiovascular adverse effects. Lidocaine should therefore be considered in the treatment of seizures in the neonatal period to a higher extent than is the case today.