Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are often administered prophylactically following brain tumor resection. With conflicting evidence and unestablished guidelines, however, the nature of this practice among tumor surgeons is unknown.
On November 24, 2015, a REDCap (Research Electronic Database Capture) survey was sent to members of the AANS/CNS Section on Tumors to query practice patterns.
Responses were received from 144 individuals, including 18.8% of board-certified neurosurgeons surveyed (across 86 institutions, 16 countries, and 5 continents). The majority reported practicing in an academic setting (85%) as a tumor specialist (71%). Sixty-three percent reported always or almost always prescribing AED prophylaxis postoperatively in patients with a supratentorial brain tumor without a prior seizure history. Meanwhile, 9% prescribed occasionally and 28% rarely prescribed AED prophylaxis. The most common agent was levetiracetam (85%). The duration of seizure prophylaxis varied widely: 25% of surgeons administered prophylaxis for 7 days, 16% for 2 weeks, 21% for 2 to 6 weeks, and 13% for longer than 6 weeks. Most surgeons (61%) believed that tumor pathology influences epileptogenicity, with high-grade glioma (39%), low-grade glioma (31%), and metastases (24%) carrying the greatest seizure risk. While the majority used prophylaxis, 62% did not believe or were unsure if prophylactic AEDs reduced seizures postoperatively. The vast majority (82%) stated that a well-designed randomized trial would help guide their future clinical decision making.
Wide knowledge and practice gaps exist regarding the frequency, duration, and setting of AED prophylaxis for seizure-naive patients undergoing brain tumor resection. Acceptance of universal practice guidelines on this topic is unlikely until higher-level evidence supporting or refuting the value of modern seizure prophylaxis is demonstrated.