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Research paper
Levetiracetam versus phenytoin for seizure prophylaxis during and early after craniotomy for brain tumours: a phase II prospective, randomised study


Objective Phenytoin (PHT) is routinely used for seizure prophylaxis in patients with brain tumours during and after craniotomy, despite incomplete evidence. We performed a prospective, randomised study to investigate the significance of prophylactic use of levetiracetam (LEV), in comparison with PHT, for patients with supratentorial tumours in the perioperative period.

Methods Patients were randomised to receive LEV, 500 mg/body every 12 h until postoperative day 7, or PHT, 15–18 mg/kg fosphenytoin followed by 125 mg PHT every 12 h until postoperative day 7. The primary end point was the occurrence of seizures, and secondary end points included the occurrence of haematological and non-haematological adverse events.

Results One hundred and forty-six patients were randomised to receive LEV (n=73) or PHT (n=73). The incidence of seizures was significantly less in the LEV group (1.4%) compared with the PHT group (15.1%, p=0.005), suggesting benefit of LEV over PHT. The observed OR for being seizure free in the LEV prophylaxis group relative to the PHT group was 12.77 (95% CI 2.39 to 236.71, p=0.001). In a subgroup analysis of patients who did not have seizures before craniotomy, similar results were demonstrated: the incidence of seizures was 1.9% (LEV) and 13.8% (PHT, p=0.034), and OR was 8.16 (95% CI 1.42 to 154.19, p=0.015). LEV was completed in all cases, although PHT was withdrawn in five patients owing to liver dysfunction (1), skin eruption (2) and atrial fibrillation (2).

Conclusions Prophylactic use of LEV in the perioperative period is recommended because it is safe and significantly reduces the incidence of seizures in this period.

Trial registration number UMIN13971.


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