Outcomes of seizures, status epilepticus, and EEG findings in critically ill patient with COVID-19

Omar A. Danoun, Andrew Zillgitt, Chloe Hill, Deepti Zutshi, David Harris, Gamaleldin Osman, Rohit Marawar, Subhendu Rath, Maryam J. Syed, Muhammad Affan, Lonni Schultz, Vibhangini S. Wasade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has a myriad of neurological manifestations and its effects on the nervous system are increasingly recognized. Seizures and status epilepticus (SE) are reported in the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), both new onset and worsening of existing epilepsy; however, the exact prevalence is still unknown. The primary aim of this study was to correlate the presence of seizures, status epilepticus, and specific critical care EEG patterns with patient functional outcomes in those with COVID-19.

METHODS: This is a retrospective, multicenter cohort of COVID-19-positive patients in Southeast Michigan who underwent electroencephalography (EEG) from March 12th through May 15th, 2020. All patients had confirmed nasopharyngeal PCR for COVID-19. EEG patterns were characterized per 2012 ACNS critical care EEG terminology. Clinical and demographic variables were collected by medical chart review. Outcomes were divided into recovered, recovered with disability, or deceased.

RESULTS: Out of the total of 4100 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 110 patients (2.68%) had EEG during their hospitalization; 64% were male, 67% were African American with mean age of 63 years (range 20-87). The majority (70%) had severe COVID-19, were intubated, or had multi-organ failure. The median length of hospitalization was 26.5 days (IQR = 15 to 44 days). During hospitalization, of the patients who had EEG, 21.8% had new-onset seizure including 7% with status epilepticus, majority (87.5%) with no prior epilepsy. Forty-nine (45%) patients died in the hospital, 46 (42%) recovered but maintained a disability and 15 (14%) recovered without a disability. The EEG findings associated with outcomes were background slowing/attenuation (recovered 60% vs recovered/disabled 96% vs died 96%, p < 0.001) and normal (recovered 27% vs recovered/disabled 0% vs died 1%, p < 0.001). However, these findings were no longer significant after adjusting for severity of COVID-19.

CONCLUSION: In this large multicenter study from Southeast Michigan, one of the early COVID-19 epicenters in the US, none of the EEG findings were significantly correlated with outcomes in critically ill COVID-19 patients. Although seizures and status epilepticus could be encountered in COVID-19, the occurrence did not correlate with the patients' functional outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107923
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • EEG
  • Functional outcomes
  • SARs-CoV-2
  • Seizure
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Status Epilepticus
  • Critical Illness
  • Male
  • Electroencephalography
  • Young Adult
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Journal Article


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