Clinical outcomes among initial survivors of cryptogenic new-onset refractory status epilepsy (NORSE)


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Objective: New-onset refractory status epilepticus (NORSE) is a rare but severe clinical syndrome. Despite rigorous evaluation, the underlying cause is unknown in 30%-50% of patients and treatment strategies are largely empirical. The aim of this study was to describe clinical outcomes in a cohort of well-phenotyped, thoroughly investigated patients who survived the initial phase of cryptogenic NORSE managed in specialist centers. Methods: Well-characterized cases of cryptogenic NORSE were identified through the EPIGEN and Critical Care EEG Monitoring Research Consortia (CCEMRC) during the period 2005-2019. Treating epileptologists reported on post-NORSE survival rates and sequelae in patients after discharge from hospital. Among survivors >6 months post-discharge, we report the rates and severity of active epilepsy, global disability, vocational, and global cognitive and mental health outcomes. We attempt to identify determinants of outcome. Results: Among 48 patients who survived the acute phase of NORSE to the point of discharge from hospital, 9 had died at last follow-up, of whom 7 died within 6 months of discharge from the tertiary care center. The remaining 39 patients had high rates of active epilepsy as well as vocational, cognitive, and psychiatric comorbidities. The epilepsy was usually multifocal and typically drug resistant. Only a minority of patients had a good functional outcome. Therapeutic interventions were heterogenous during the acute phase of the illness. There was no clear relationship between the nature of treatment and clinical outcomes. Significance: Among survivors of cryptogenic NORSE, longer-term outcomes in most patients were life altering and often catastrophic. Treatment remains empirical and variable. There is a pressing need to understand the etiology of cryptogenic NORSE and to develop tailored treatment strategies.
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Key words
cryptogenic,new-onset refractory status epilepticus (NORSE),outcomes
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