Use of Levetiracetam for Post-Traumatic Seizure Prophylaxis in Combat-Related Traumatic Brain Injury

Rex Atwood, Patrick Walker, Daniel Walper, Eric Elster, Matthew Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Post-traumatic seizure (PTS) prophylaxis is recommended in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) at high risk for PTSs, but consensus on the optimal pharmacologic therapy has not yet been established. Levetiracetam is frequently used for seizure prophylaxis in combat-related TBI, but its efficacy and safety in this patient population has not yet been described. Methods: A retrospective cohort of 687 consecutive casualties transferred to the CONUS from October 2010 to December 2015 was analyzed. Seventy-one patients with combat-related injuries and radiographic evidence of skull fractures or intracranial hemorrhage were included. Data collection included demographics and injury characteristics including initial Glasgow Coma Scale, computed tomography findings, interventions, and 6-month Glasgow Outcome Score. Results: All patients in this cohort were male, with an average age of 25 (median 24; Interquartile range (IQR) 4.5) and an average Injury Severity Score of 28 (median 27; IQR 15). The most common mechanism of injury was explosive blast (76%). Penetrating TBI was common (51%). Most patients (88.7%) were administered seizure prophylaxis. Of these, the majority (61/63) received levetiracetam, and the additional two were administered phenytoin. The remaining 11.3% of patients were deemed not to require seizure prophylaxis. The incidence of seizures while on prophylaxis was low (2.8%) and occurred in patients who suffered transcranial gunshot wounds and ultimately died. No serious adverse effects were attributed to levetiracetam. Conclusions: Levetiracetam appears to be a safe and effective medication for PTS prophylaxis in combat casualties. The rate of PTSs in combat-related TBI on appropriate prophylaxis is low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E3570-E3574
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


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