Perioperative seizure incidence and risk factors in 223 pediatric brain tumor patients without prior seizures

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The incidence of, and risk factors for, perioperative seizures and the need for perioperative antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in previously seizure-free children with brain tumors remains unclear. The authors have undertaken a review of previously seizure-free pediatric patients with brain tumors undergoing resection to identify the incidence of seizures in the perioperative period, and to characterize risk factors for perioperative seizures in this population.


A retrospective review was conducted of all patients between 0 and 19 years of age without prior seizures who underwent intracranial tumor resection at the authors' institution between January 2005 and December 2009.


Of the 223 patients undergoing 229 operations, 7.4% experienced at least 1 clinical seizure during the surgical admission. Over half of all tumors were supratentorial. Only 4.4% of patients received prophylactic AEDs. Independent factors associated with perioperative seizures included supratentorial tumor, age < 2 years, and hyponatremia due to syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone or cerebral salt wasting. Tumor type, lobe affected, operative blood loss, and length of surgery were not independently associated with seizure incidence.


Perioperative seizures in previously seizure-free children undergoing resection of brain tumors are associated with supratentorial tumor location, age < 2 years, and postoperative hyponatremia. Perioperative seizures are not associated with tumor pathology, tumor size, or frontotemporal location. Due to the low incidence of seizures in this series in patients more than 2 years old with normal serum sodium, the authors recommend that pediatric patients with brain tumors not routinely receive perioperative prophylactic AEDs. However, the role for prophylaxis in patients younger than 2 years of age deserves further study.

Abbreviations used in this paper: AAN = American Academy of Neurology; AED = antiepileptic drug; CSW = cerebral salt wasting; EBL = estimated blood loss; SIADH = syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone.

Article Information

Address correspondence to: Douglas A. Hardesty, M.D., Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Wood Center, 6th Floor, 34th and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4399. email:

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.



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    Histogram of patient age, in years, as a percentage of all patients with (upper) or without (lower) perioperative seizures.



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