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Subcutaneous levetiracetam for the management of seizures at the end of life


Objectives To report the results of a combined case series analysis of subcutaneous levetiracetam (Keppra) for the management of seizures in palliative care patients.

Methods A comprehensive literature review on the use of subcutaneous levetiracetam was performed, and these data were combined with a prospective observational audit of its use in terminal care undertaken in a regional palliative care network.

Results 7 papers were identified from the literature review-four case reports and three observational case series-reporting on a total of 53 cases where subcutaneous levetiracetam was administered.

We report 20 further cases of subcutaneous levetiracetam administration from a prospective observational audit. Doses ranged from 250mg to 4000 mg daily. Oral to subcutaneous conversion ratios where stated were 1:1. Levetiracetam was reported as the sole administered antiepileptic drug (AED) in eight cases, and no seizures were reported until death in five cases. Five were switched back to enteral levetiracetam. In seven cases, levetiracetam was combined with AEDs to provide seizure control at the end of life. There was one report of a sterile abscess after 25 days of continuous subcutaneous administration.

Conclusions Combined analysis of 73 reported cases of subcutaneous levetiracetam suggests this treatment may have a role in the management of seizures at the end of life. However, randomised controlled trials are urgently needed to establish the efficacy and tolerability of subcutaneous levetiracetam administration. If proven to be safe and effective, subcutaneous levetiracetam offers the potential to prevent and treat seizures without causing unnecessary sedation at the end of life.

  • levetiracetam
  • keppra
  • seizures
  • palliative care
  • terminal care

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