Purpose of review: Antiepileptic agents are widely used in the perioperative course of neurosurgical patients - for prophylactic and therapeutic reasons. However, the evidence supporting their use is extremely small and adverse events are common. This review highlights the current controversies. Recent findings: Prophylactic use of antiepileptic agents is unfavorable for patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage. In patients with brain tumors, prophylactic use is not recommended. If the drugs are used nevertheless, stopping after the first postoperative week must be strongly recommended. After traumatic brain injury, early prophylactic use might prevent late post-traumatic seizures. The new antiepileptic drug levetiracetam seems to have a better safety profile, which makes it more suitable for prophylactic use. However, in all groups, evidence concerning the choice of drugs and duration of prophylaxis is lacking. Current research is focusing on prevention of epileptogenesis. Therapeutic use of antiepileptic drugs is supported by evidence. These drugs should be continued perioperatively. However, they might induce severe adverse events during adjuvant treatments like radiotherapy or chemotherapy in patients with brain tumors. Summary: Despite lacking evidence, prophylactic antiepileptic drug use is common in the perioperative course of neurosurgical patients. More research is needed to deal better with epileptogenesis and to define the right drug for the right patient at the right time.

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doi.org/10.1097/ACO.0b013e32833e14f2, hdl.handle.net/1765/28184
Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Klimek, M, & Dammers, R. (2010). Antiepileptic drug therapy in the perioperative course of neurosurgical patients. Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology (Vol. 23, pp. 564–567). doi:10.1097/ACO.0b013e32833e14f2