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Status epilepticus (SE) has traditionally been thought to cause cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pleocytosis. However, attributing CSF pleocytosis solely to SE without addressing the underlying etiology may lead to poor outcomes. Leukocyte recruitment to CSF has been shown to peak around 24 hours after prolonged seizures in animal studies, suggesting that CSF pleocytosis within the first 24 hours of SE onset may be due to underlying causes. The goal of this study is to assess if SE is associated with CSF pleocytosis, independent of other causes within the first 24 hours of onset. We completed a historical cohort study of adult patients with SE admitted to the intensive care unit of Vancouver General Hospital between March 2010 and May 2019. Of the 441 patients admitted with SE during the study period, 107 met our inclusion criteria leading to 111 lumbar punctures (LPs), with 4 patients receiving two LPs. CSF pleocytosis was seen in 12 of 72 patients who underwent an LP within the first 24 hours of SE onset. In all 12 patients, a secondary etiology for the pleocytosis was observed aside from SE. Of the six CSF samples collected after 24 hours of onset that demonstrated pleocytosis, four had no cause for pleocytosis other than SE. In all 12 patients with CSF pleocytosis in the first 24 hours of onset of SE, an underlying etiology was identified. Therefore, any pleocytosis noticed within the first 24 hours of onset of refractory SE should not be attributed solely to SE.


Sargun Bajaj, Donald Griesdale, Yahya Agha-Khani, Farzad Moien-Afshari. Cerebrospinal Fluid Pleocytosis Not Attributable to Status Epilepticus in First 24 Hours. The Canadian journal of neurological sciences. Le journal canadien des sciences neurologiques. 2022 Mar;49(2):210-217

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PMID: 33902768

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