Status epilepticus (SE) is the most extreme form of epilepsy. It describes a prolonged seizure that may occur in patients with previous epilepsy or in acute disorders of the central nervous system. It is one of the most common neurologic emergencies, with an incidence of up to 41 per 100,000 per year and an estimated mortality is 20%. The three major determinants of prognosis are the duration of SE, patient age, and the underlying cause. Common and easily recognized causes of SE include cerebrovascular disorders, brain trauma, infections, and low antiepileptic drug levels in patients with epilepsy. Less common causes present a clinical and diagnostic challenge, but are major determinants of prognosis. Among them, inflammatory causes and inborn errors of metabolism have gained wide interest; recent insights into these causes have contributed to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of SE and its appropriate treatment. This review focuses on the different etiologies of SE and emphasizes the importance of prompt recognition and treatment of the underlying causes.
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