Patterns of prophylactic anticonvulsant use in spontaneous intracerebral and subarachnoid hemorrhage: results of a practitioner survey

Michael J. Gigliotti, Shwetha Srikanth, Kevin M. Cockroft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The use of prophylactic anti-seizure medications (ASMs) in the management of patients with spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage (sICH) and aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) is controversial. Objective: The purpose of this survey was to better characterize the current state of prophylactic ASM use in sICH and aSAH in North America. Methods: US and Canadian neurosurgeons, neurologists, and interventional neuroradiologists with an interest in or expertise in the management of neurovascular disease were surveyed using an electronic survey tool. Results: Seven hundred ninety-four survey requests were sent; responses were received from 103 (13%). The majority of respondents were neurosurgeons (84%). Thirty-eight percent of respondents self-identified as vascular neurosurgeons and 10% self-identified as neurocritical care specialists. Seventy-two percent were in academic practice. When asked their preference for ASM prophylaxis (aSAH, sICH, or both), the most common response was to use prophylaxis in both aSAH and sICH (43, 45%). Twenty-one (22%) did not use routine prophylaxis, while 22 (23%) used prophylaxis only in aSAH and 9 (9%) only in sICH. The majority of practitioners (35, 67%) who answered that they used ASM prophylaxis in sICH, used ASMs selectively. For aSAH, the vast majority (53, 82%) used prophylaxis for all patients. Respondents felt that they were more likely to use ASMs for sICH patients if the sICH was in a cortical location, supratentorial location, or was related to a structural abnormality (e.g., tumor, arteriovenous malformation) Levetiracetam (Keppra) was the most commonly used ASM (73, 99%). When asked whether the statement “Current AHA/ASA Guidelines recommend against the use of prophylactic anticonvulsants in spontaneous ICH” was true or false, 78 (83%) responded correctly that the recommendation is true. Only 24 respondents answered the question as to whether they would be willing to randomize sICH and/or aSAH patients to management with or without ASM prophylaxis. Of these, 13 (54%) said they would be willing to randomize sICH patients, while only 6 (25%) were willing to randomize aSAH patients. There were no statistically significant differences in responses to survey questions when analyzed by practice type (academic versus non-academic) or physician specialty (critical care versus non-critical care, or vascular neurology/neurosurgery versus other). Conclusion: The use of ASMs for seizure prophylaxis after sICH and aSAH remains widespread despite the lack of any specific evidence-based guideline to support the practice. A large-scale randomized controlled trial is needed to add clarity to the practice of prophylactic ASM use in patients with spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1873-1877
Number of pages5
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Dermatology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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