Impact of anti-epileptic drug choice on discharge in acute traumatic brain injury patients.
Anti-epileptic drug (AED) prophylaxis in the first-seven days post-traumatic brain injury (TBI) is known to reduce seizure frequency acutely. AED efficacy is equivalent; therefore, choice of AED may rest with their side-effects. We hypothesise that AEDs that impair balance will prolong recovery, shown by a longer hospital stay. We compared length of hospital stay (and reported dizziness) in TBI patients receiving the commonest AEDs used in our TBI patients, Phenytoin (which may cause imbalance), and Levetiracetam (which does not affect balance).A retrospective observational study was performed on TBI patients admitted to a Major Trauma Unit between October 2013 and June 2018. 100 of 278 patients treated with phenytoin or levetiracetam monotherapy for seizure prophylaxis were included. The inclusion criteria of admission Glasgow Coma Score of 14 or more and length of stay less than 3 weeks minimised confounding variables such as non-ambulant patients. Length of hospital stay and incidence of dizziness were assessed.The length of hospital stay was longer for patients on Phenytoin versus Levetiracetam, i.e., 10.74 vs. 7.58 days (p = 0.015; unpaired, two-sided t test). Dizziness reported by patients on phenytoin was 24% and levetiracetam was 8% (p = 0.018; Chi-squared test).In this cohort, using Phenytoin for acute TBI, seizure prophylaxis was associated with longer length of stay and more dizziness compared to Levetiracetam. Given their equivalent AED efficacy in acute TBI seizure prophylaxis, our data suggest that Levetiracetam is preferable to Phenytoin for early seizure prophylaxis in TBI. This requires evaluation in larger, prospective studies.