Background To analyse the prevalence of seizures and use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in the end-of-life (EOL) phase of patients with high-grade glioma (HGG) and to identify patient characteristics associated with the occurrence of seizures in the last week of life.
Methods Patients were recruited from a cohort of adults with HGG diagnosed in 2005 and 2006 in three tertiary referral centres for patients with brain tumour. Physicians involved in the EOL care of patients who had HGG and had died were asked to fill in a questionnaire regarding seizures and antiepileptic treatment in the last 3 months and in the last week of life. Data on seizures and use of AEDs before the EOL phase were obtained from medical correspondence and hospital medical charts.
Results Out of 155 patients who had died, data for 92 patients were eligible for analysis. Twenty-nine percent of these 92 patients had seizures during the last week of life; 33% of patients had a history of seizures and 22% did not. Besides a history of status epilepticus (p=0.047), we identified no other significant risk factors for developing seizures in the last week of life. Seventy percent of all patients used AEDs before the last week of life. In 35% of patients in whom AEDs were tapered, seizures occurred in the last week of life.
Conclusions Our results demonstrate that seizures are a common symptom in patients with HGG during the last week of life and emphasise the importance of adequate AED treatment throughout the EOL phase.
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