Electroconvulsive therapy for super refractory status epilepticus in pregnancy: case report and review of literature

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Objective: We aim to describe use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat super refractory status epilepticus (SRSE) in pregnancy and review the literature regarding utility and safety of ECT in refractory status epilepticus. Background: Status epilepticus (SE) is a commonly encountered emergency in neuro-critical care world. Pharmacotherapy of status epilepticus in pregnancy is very challenging given the effect of the majority of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) on fetal development. Although there has been growing evidence for use of ECT in status epilepticus, data about its utility in pregnancy is lacking. Design/Method: A twenty-one year old Caucasian female with history of epilepsy presented at 8 weeks of gestation as status epilepticus (SE) after abrupt discontinuation of her AEDs. Treatment was initiated with standard regimen of benzodiazepine and levetiracetam, which was progressively expanded to include approximately 10 anti-epileptic drugs over the course of 30 days. The status epilepticus was super refractory to sedation. She underwent ECT on day 31 with remarkable improvement in electroencephalogram (EEG) pattern and resolution of status epilepticus following a single ECT session. We reviewed PubMed and collated case reports involving the use of ECT in status epilepticus with emphasis on differences in various confounding factors esp. etiology of status and age group Conclusion: Our case is the first reported case of ECT for successful treatment of SRSE in pregnancy. While majority AEDs pose a significant maternal and fetal risk during pregnancy, ECT could be a potential frontline therapy for SE in pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1109-1119
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2023


  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Status epilepticus
  • pregnancy
  • seizure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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