How to manage seizures

01 February 2013
12 mins read
Volume 4 · Issue 1


Seizures are a period of disorganised brain activity, where there is overstimulation of the central nervous system and random involuntary muscle spasms. There are different forms of seizure activity that affect animals and a wide range of potential underlying causes. A veterinary nurse must be able to assist the veterinary surgeon in the management of any patient presenting following or during seizure activity, as prompt and appropriate intervention is required to achieve a favourable outcome for these patients. This article aims to outline the differing presentations associated with seizure activity and consider some of the potential underlying causes, before exploring the optimal stabilisation and management of any seizuring patient.

Seizures are a period of disorganised brain activity where there is overstimulation of the central nervous system and random involuntary muscles spasms. From the author's experience, the presentation of patients suffering with seizures is common in an emergency practice, but can also be a regular occurrence in general practice, referral hospitals or in the home environment. Patients can present in a normal condition with the owners reporting seizure activity being witnessed at home; examples of clinical signs associated with seizure activity are discussed in Table 1. Patients can present in pre-ictal (also known as prodrome) and post-ictal states, they can suffer focal and cluster seizures and thus require treatment, or most seriously they can present in status epilepticus (Table 1). Some potential underlying causes of seizure activity in animals are detailed in Table 2, and are typically categorised as being extra-cranial or intra-cranial in origin.

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