Recognizing seizure clusters in the community: The path to uniformity and individualization in nomenclature and definition

Sheryl R. Haut, Rima Nabbout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Seizure emergencies experienced by patients with epilepsy include status epilepticus and seizure clusters. Although an accepted definition of status epilepticus exists, no clear consensus definition of seizure clusters has emerged; this is further complicated by the appearance in the literature of various empirically based definitions that have been developed for clinical trial study designs. In general, patients with intractable epilepsy have been shown to have a significant risk for acute episodes of increased seizure activity called seizure clusters (also referred to as acute repetitive seizures, among other terms) that differ from their usual seizure pattern. Duration (e.g., number of hours or days) is often included in the definition of a seizure cluster; however, the duration may vary among patients, with some seizure clusters lasting ≥24 h and requiring long-acting treatment for this period. In addition to seizure cluster duration, the time between seizures and possible acceleration in seizure frequency during the cluster may be important variables. The recognition and treatment of seizure clusters require urgent action because episodes that are not quickly and appropriately treated may lead to injury or progress to status epilepticus or potentially death. Most seizure clusters occur outside a medical facility (in the community) and treatment is usually administered by nonmedical individuals; therefore, health care providers may benefit from a clear description of these potential seizure emergencies that they can then use to educate patients and caregivers on the prompt and appropriate identification of seizure clusters and administration of rescue therapy. Here we explore why greater uniformity is needed in the discussion of seizure clusters. This exploration examines epidemiologic studies of seizure clusters and status epilepticus, inconsistencies in nomenclature and definitions for seizure clusters, practical application of seizure cluster terminology, and the potential use of acute seizure action plans and patient-specific individualized definitions in the clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S6-S13
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • acute repetitive seizure
  • epilepsy
  • prolonged acute convulsive seizure
  • rescue
  • status epilepticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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