What is convulsion, signs and treatment

What is convulsion, signs and treatment?


A convulsion is an episode of neurologic dysfunction caused by abnormal neuronal activity that results in sudden change in behavior, sensory perception, or motor activity. For a patient with new onset convulsion the list of possible causes is longer and consists of the following:

Approach to a patient 

  • Ask for history of epilepsy, if yes; compliance to anticonvulsant
  • History of CNS pathology(stroke, neoplasm, recent surgery)
  • History of systemic neoplasms, infections, metabolic disorders, or toxic ingestions
  • Recent trauma or fall
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Trauma
  • Eclampsia 
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Alcohol or medication withdrawal (barbiturate, diazepam
  • Drug induced seizures(tricyclic antidepressant and isoniazid overdose)

Laboratory studies

  • Clinical information should guide the specific workup of a patient. Some investigations must be ordered:
  • Serum glucose level 
  • Serum electrolyte 
  • Pregnancy test for women of child bearing age
  • CT scan is indicated as outpatient/inpatient depending on progress of patient after episode of seizure. For a patient who had previously history of seizure do CT scan brain if;
  • New focal deficits 
  • Trauma 
  • Persistent fever
  • New character or pattern to the seizure

ECG should be considered in some patients. Seizure event can be precipitated by cerebral hypo-perfusion due to arrhythmia, ECG may identify the following

  • Prolonged QTc 
  • Widened  QRS 
  • Prominent R in aVR 
  • Heart block

Consider Lumbar Puncture in; 

  • Immune-compromised
  • Persistent fever 
  • Severe headache 
  • Persistently altered mental status

Treatment and management

Neurological dysfunction is theorized to occur after 20mn of continuous seizure, so aggressive treatment of any seizure should be done in 5 min. always consider the underlying cause until proved otherwise.

  1. A, B, C (airway, breathing, circulation) 
  2. Benzodiazepines 

A: Diazepam 10-20mg IV at a rate of 0.5ml (2.5mg) per 30 sec. Repeat if necessary after 30-60min. May be followed by intravenous infusion to max. OR 3mg/kg over 24 hours, per rectum 500mcgrms/kg up to max of 30g)

B: Phenytoin 18mg/kg IV stat then 100mg 8 hourly O/IV

C: Phenobarbitone 20mg/kg 8 hourly. Max. Dose 1.5g



1 thought on “What is convulsion, signs and treatment?”

  1. Aw, this was a very good post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a very good article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

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