Acute Administration of Benzodiazepines as Part of Treatment Strategies for Epilepsy


  • This work is dedicated to Prof. Dr. Dieter Janz, Berlin, on the occasion of his 90th birthday on April 20, 2010.

Prof. Dr. Peter Wolf, M.D., Epilepsihospitalet, Kolonivej 1, DK - 4293 Dianalund, Denmark. Tel.: +45-58271073; Fax: +45-58271050; E-mail:


Ad-hoc administration of benzodiazepines (BZD) is well established in status epilepticus, but intermittent BZD use in the treatment of chronic epilepsy is little known beyond catamenial epilepsy. We aim to assess the use of acute drug administration (ADA) in the treatment of 24 patients with epilepsy (9 idiopathic generalized, 14 focal symptomatic/cryptogenic, 1 migraine-epilepsy) receiving ADA for (1) prevention of generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) after minor seizures, (2) prevention of seizures at perceived risk, (3) prevention of seizure clusters. Standard ADA was 10 mg oral clobazam (CLB); one patient received 10 mg rectal diazepam. Concomitant antiepileptic drugs (AED) remained unchanged whenever possible. Ten patients used ADA always correctly, 7 mostly, 7 sporadically or not. Outcome considering seizure control was positive in 44% of all patients (59% of those who actually used ADA): 5 patients seizure free, 1 free of disabling seizures, 4 with >50% reduction in seizure frequency. Eleven had minor or no improvement, 3 patients could not be rated. Thirteen (of 19 possible) patients attempted prevention of seizures or clusters, 10 with full or >50% success (52.6 resp. 76.9%). Prevention of clusters sometimes required higher or repetitive CLB dosing. Self rating of patients who did use ADA was positive or very positive in 88.2%. Retention rate was 66.7% of all patients, and 88.2% of those using ADA. The best results were obtained in idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE) patients with seizures habitually triggered by typical factors (sleep deprival, alcohol) but also some others were successful. The only adverse effect was gait ataxia in a multiple-handicapped patient. ADA is an elegant and often successful but underused treatment option for selected patient groups where it can make the difference between becoming seizure free or not. Depending on the individual case it can be applied as monotherapy or in combination with a basis AED. A controlled investigation should follow.