[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2008, a group of Belgian epilepsy experts published recommendations for antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment of epilepsies in adults and children. Selection of compounds was based on the registration and reimbursement status in Belgium, the level of evidence for efficacy, common daily practice and the personal views and experiences of the authors. In November 2011 the validity of these recommendations was reviewed by the same group of Belgian epilepsy experts who contributed to the preparation of the original paper. The recommendations made in 2008 for initial monotherapy in paediatric patients were still considered to be valid, except for the first choice treatment for childhood absence epilepsy. This update therefore focuses on the treatment recommendations for initial monotherapy and add-on treatment in adult patients. Several other relevant aspects of treatment with AEDs are addressed, including considerations for optimal combination of AEDs (rational polytherapy), pharmacokinetic properties, pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic interaction profile, adverse effects, comorbidity, treatment of elderly patients, AED treatment during pregnancy, and generic substitution of AEDs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Given the continuous knowledge progression and the growing number of available antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), making appropriate treatment choices for patients with epilepsy is increasingly difficult. While published guidelines help for separate clinical aspects, patients with a combination of specific characteristics may escape proper guidance. This study aimed to determine the appropriateness of AEDs for particular clinical variables and to offer treatment recommendations for adult patients with epilepsy in a user-friendly format for practicing neurologists.
Using the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method, the appropriateness of AEDs as initial/second mono-therapy and combination therapy was assessed in relation to selected clinical variables by a Belgian panel of 13 experts in epilepsy. Panel recommendations for particular patient profiles were determined by the outcome of these separate ratings.
The appropriateness outcome of individual AEDs was not substantially different between first and second mono-therapy; valproate was considered appropriate for all types of generalised and partial seizures. The outcome for combination therapy was highly dependent on the type of AED and seizures. With respect to co-morbidities and co-treatments, levetiracetam and pregabalin proved to have the least contra-indications. For the elderly and with respect to factors related to the female reproductive system the appropriateness of AEDs showed a more diffuse pattern. Although caution was deemed necessary for some combinations, the AEDs were never considered inappropriate regarding their drug interaction profile.
The Epi-Scope(®) tool that displays appropriateness recommendations for highly specific, possibly complex cases, supports optimal treatment choices for adult patients with epilepsy in daily practice.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The large choice of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in Belgium complicates the selection of the appropriate product for the individual patient. International guidelines on the treatment of epilepsy have been published, but are not tailored to the Belgian situation. This publication presents recommendations from a group of Belgian epilepsy experts for the practical management of epilepsy in general practice in Belgium. It includes recommendations for initial monotherapy and add-on treatment in adult patients (> or = 16 years) and initial monotherapy in paediatric patients (< 16 years). For these three situations a first choice AED is recommended. One or more alternative first choice AEDs are defined for patients in which certain patient- or AED-related factors preclude the use of the first choice product. Selection of compounds was based on the registration and reimbursement status in Belgium, the level of evidence of efficacy, common daily practice and the personal views and experiences of the authors. The paper reflects the situation in 2008. In addition to the treatment recommendations, other relevant points to consider in the treatment of epilepsy with AEDs are addressed, including comorbidity and age of the patient, the interaction potential, pharmacokinetic properties and safety profile of the AEDs, and generic substitution.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Changing from brand name to generic antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) is increasingly being advocated by the authorities, principally for budgetary reasons. However, caution should be exercised since AEDs may have a narrow therapeutic margin, the regimen with AEDs may be complex, the consequences of uncontrolled seizures may be severe, and risk of side effects is relatively high, particularly when seizures are difficult to control. This article focuses on the possible problems that can arise from the substitution of AEDs formulations, such as loss of seizure control and emergence of new side effects. We would advise that patients stay on the same formulation of the first AED, whether a brand name or generic AED. Switching AED formulations should always be done with the necessary caution and under the physician's supervision. Closer follow-up during the transitional period is necessary, and dosage adjustment may be required. The patient should be given full and correct advice about risks involved in switching AED formulations.
European journal of paediatric neurology: EJPN: official journal of the European Paediatric Neurology Society 10/2008; 13(2):87-92. · 2.01 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a symptomatic add-on treatment for patients with medically refractory epilepsy. It consists of continuous electrical stimulation of the left vagus nerve by means of a helical electrode and an implantable, programmable pulse generator. Currently, over 50,000 patients are treated with VNS worldwide.
This uncontrolled, open-label retrospective study evaluates long-term outcome in patients treated with VNS for refractory epilepsy in seven different epilepsy centres in Belgium.
For the purpose of this study, a minimum of essential inclusion criteria were defined to collect relevant data. This limited the results to basic findings with regards to efficacy on the long term. Inclusion criteria were a follow-up of at least 12 months and a documented seizure diary before implantation and at maximum follow-up. Primary outcome measures were the reduction in mean monthly seizure frequency and the percentage of patients with a seizure reduction of at least 50% (responder rate).
About 138 patients (67M/71F) had a mean age of 30 years (range 4-59) at time of implantation and a mean post-implantation follow-up of 44 months (range 12-120). The mean number of AEDs before implantation was 3 (range 1-5). About 117/138 patients had focal epilepsy, 21 patients had symptomatic generalised epilepsy. About 117/138 patients were older than 16 years, 21 patients were 16 or younger. At maximum follow-up, mean stimulation output current was 1.84mA (range 0-3.25). Mean number of AEDs at maximum follow-up remained unchanged. The overall reduction in mean monthly seizure frequency was 51%. Mean seizure frequency before implantation was 41 seizures/month (SD=61; range 1-300), mean seizure frequency after implantation at maximum follow-up was 7 seizures/month (SD=25; range 0-120). Responder rate was 59%. 13% of patients had a seizure frequency decrease between 30% and 50%. About 28% had a seizure frequency decrease of<30%. Seizure freedom was obtained in 12/138 patients (9%).
The long-term experience with VNS in Belgium confirms that VNS is an efficacious adjunctive antiepileptic treatment for patients with refractory epilepsy.
European Journal of Paediatric Neurology 09/2007; 11(5):261-9. · 1.98 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Non-convulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) makes up around one-third of all cases of SE, affecting approximately 1,000 to 4,000 individuals per year in Belgium. Compared with convulsive SE, NCSE has received considerably less attention, is underdiagnosed and undertreated. However, if recognised, NCSE can however be treated successfully. A workshop was convened by neurologists from major Belgian centres to review the latest information on NCSE and to make recommendations on diagnosis and treatment. These recommendations are not only intended for neurologists, but also for primary care physicians and physicians in intensive care units. NCSE should be suspected whenever cases of fluctuating consciousness or abrupt cognitive or behavioural changes are noted. Confirmation of diagnosis by EEG should be obtained wherever possible. In view of the often subtle clinical signs, EEG is also vital for monitoring treatment outcome. Non-comatose patients should generally be treated in a neurology ward since referral to an ICU is unnecessary. First-line treatment should be an intravenous benzodiazepine. For many patients who fail to respond to benzodiazepines, intravenous valproate will successfully abrogate seizure activity. Intravenous phenytoin can be used in patients with focal NCSE in whom valproate is contraindicated or ineffective. Time and care should be spent in identifying an appropriate and effective antiepileptic drug regimen without recourse to anaesthesia. For comatose patients, treatment intensity should be graded according to epilepsy history, general medical state and prognosis. In some patients, intensive remedial measures may allow rapid resolution of NSCE, whereas in more vulnerable patients, such treatment may be counterproductive.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Status epilepticus (SE) is a significant health problem, affecting approximately 1,000 to 4,000 individuals per year in Belgium. A workshop was convened by a panel of neurologists from major Belgian centers to review the latest information relating to the definition, diagnosis and treatment of convulsive SE. The panelists sought to make recommendations for practising neurologists, but also primary care physicians and physicians in intensive care units when initiating emergency measures for patients with convulsive SE. As there is an association between prolonged seizures and a poor outcome, the importance of early (within the first 5 minutes of seizure onset) and aggressive treatment is to be stressed. In addition to general systemic support (airway, circulation), intravenous administration of the benzodiazepines lorazepam or diazepam is recommended as first-line therapy. Intramuscular midazolam may also be used. If SE persists, second-line drugs include phenytoin or valproate, and third-line drugs the barbiturate phenobarbital, the benzodiazepine midazolam, or the anaesthetics thiopental or propofol, or eventually ketamine. If the patient does not recover after therapy, monitoring of seizures should involve an electroencephalogram to avoid overlooking persistence of clinically silent SE. As a general rule, the intensity of the treatment should reflect the risk to the patient from SE, and drugs likely to depress respiration and blood pressure should initially be avoided. If initial treatment with a benzodiazepine fails to control seizures, the patient must be referred to the emergency unit and a neurologist should be contacted immediately.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Women with epilepsy (WWE) have an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, which however can be minimized by optimal, interdisciplinary patient management. The aim of any therapy is to achieve an optimal balance between avoidance of seizures, which may be harmful to both mother and foetus, and minimization of foetal and neonatal exposure to deleterious influences of antiepileptic drugs. Suitable measures include early and regular counselling of the young WWE about contraception and planning of pregnancy, optimisation of drug treatment (choice of the right drug and dosage also in view of altered pharmacokinetics, avoidance of polytherapy, therapeutic drug monitoring etc.), in-time folate substitution, and close follow-up of the patient during and after pregnancy. Until now, many issues such as underlying factors of malformations have not been clearly elucidated. Nonetheless, chances for an unproblematic pregnancy of WWE are high.