March 21, 2012
Cynthia Harden, MD
Faster, more effective relief of prolonged seizures (which last more than five minutes) may be available with medicine delivered into a muscle via an autoinjector, according to a study recently published by the New England Journal of Medicine. An autoinjector is similar to the EpiPen used to treat serious allergic reactions.
This study represents a major step toward addressing the serious neurologic and medical risk of prolonged seizures. In the study, investigators compared two medicines, midazolam and lorazepam, known to be effective in controlling seizures. The researchers found that an intramuscular injection of midazolam, which quickly delivers anticonvulsant medicine, ultimately worked as effectively and quickly as intravenous lorazepam. So autoinjector technology bypasses the difficulty of rapidly delivering a life-saving intravenous treatment in the field during an emergency with a patient who is actively having a seizure. The device has great value in a clinical setting when used by paramedics. However, the safety of its use by nonmedical persons such as family members remains to be clarified.
The researchers involved in the study, which was sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, should be praised for this important research, which is readily translatable to helping patients.
For more information on seizures and epilepsy, please visit the Comprehensive Epilepsy Care Center at Cushing Neuroscience Institute.
Visit our main Web site to find a hospital in New York close to you or visit our Find a Physican tool to find a doctor best suited to your needs.