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Non-convulsive status epilepticus: mimics and chameleons
  1. Michael Owen Kinney1,
  2. John J Craig1,
  3. P W Kaplan2
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK
  2. 2Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Centre, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael Owen Kinney, Department of Neurology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK; mickinney{at}


Non-convulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) is an enigmatic condition with protean manifestations. It often goes unrecognised, leading to delays in its diagnosis and treatment. The principal reason for such delay is the failure to consider and request an electroencephalogram (EEG), although occasional presentations have no scalp or surface electroencephalographic correlate. In certain settings with limited EEG availability, particularly out-of-hours, clinicians should consider treating without an EEG. Patients need a careful risk–benefit analysis to assess the risks of neuronal damage and harm versus the risks of adverse effects from various intensities of therapeutic intervention. Specialists in EEG, intensive care or epilepsy are invaluable in the management of patients with possible NCSE.

  • status epilepticus
  • intensive care
  • nonconvulsive status epilepticus

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  • Contributors MOK: idea for paper, wrote the first and subsequent drafts. JJC, PWK: revision of drafts, with ideas for structure and content.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This paper was reviewed by Hannah Cock, London, UK.

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