Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Recovery of consciousness after epileptic seizures in children
  1. J E Allen1,
  2. C D Ferrie2,
  3. J H Livingston2,
  4. R G Feltbower3
  1. 1School of Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  2. 2Department of Paediatric Neurology, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  3. 3Paediatric Epidemiology Group, Centre for Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    J E Allen
    Department of Paediatric Neurology, Leeds General Infirmary, Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3EX, UK; joannaallen{at}


Objective: To investigate the duration of postictal impairment of consciousness and the factors that affect it.

Patients and methods: 90 children aged 1–16 years (37 male, 53 female, median age 6 years), attending the accident and emergency department, and inpatients of Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds, UK, who had experienced seizures involving impairment of consciousness. Interventions—hourly modified paediatric coma scores were determined, until a coma score of 15 was obtained. Linear regression analysis was used to determine the factors influencing recovery time.

Results: 49 children were excluded owing to incomplete coma scoring, lost notes and refusal of consent. Median time for full recovery of consciousness was 38 min (0.63 h, range 0.05–17 h). Median recovery time was 18 min (0.3 h, range 0.05–9 h) from febrile seizures, which was significantly shorter than for seizures of other aetiologies (p<0.05), 1.35 h (range 0.07–13.13 h) from idiopathic seizures, 1.25 h (0.07–12.1 h) from remote symptomatic seizures and 4.57 h (0.25–17 h) from acute symptomatic seizures. Median recovery time after the use of benzodiazepines was 3.46 h (range 0.08–14.25 h), and was significantly longer (p<0.05) than for seizures not treated with benzodiazepines (median 0.47 h, range 0.05–17 h). Age, sex, seizure type and duration did not significantly affect recovery time.

Conclusions: Most children experiencing febrile seizures recover within 30 min. An acute symptomatic aetiology should be considered if recovery takes >1 h.

  • CNS, central nervous system
  • GTCS, generalised tonic–clonic seizure
  • ILAE, International League Against Epilepsy

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Published Online First 4 July 2006

  • Competing interests: None.

Linked Articles

  • Précis
    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health