Published: 11/09/2016

Ketogenic diet in pediatric patients with refractory focal status epilepticus

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The ketogenic diet (KD) has been used as an alternative treatment for patients with refractory status epilepticus (SE).


In this retrospective study we assess the efficacy and tolerability of the KD in patients with refractory SE.


Between March 1, 2010 and January 1, 2014, 10 patients who met the diagnostic criteria of refractory SE seen at our department were placed on the KD and followed for a minimum of 6 months.


Ketonuria was reached within 2-4 days (mean 3 days) for all patients. Seizures stopped in two patients and five patients had a 50-75% seizure reduction within 2-5 days (mean 2.5 days) following the onset of ketonuria and within 5-7 days (mean 5 days) following the onset of the diet. Three patients had a <50% seizure reduction and all of them had severe adverse events so the diet was discontinued. Seven patients remained on the diet for 6 months to 3 years (mean 1.5 years). In all seven patients within 4 months the seizures recurred, but their quality of life did not worsen. The frequency of the seizures consisted of weekly seizures in two, monthly seizures in two, occasional seizures in two, and isolated seizures in one. All of them kept a good tolerability of the diet.


The KD is an effective and well-tolerated treatment option for patients with refractory SE. In patients with focal SE secondary to inflammatory or probably inflammatory diseases, the KD should be considered earlier in the course of the treatment.