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Treatment Outcomes of Newly Diagnosed Epilepsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

CNS Drugs 2023 January
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Understanding the multi-faceted treatment outcomes of newly diagnosed epilepsy is critical for developing rational therapeutic strategies. A meta-analysis was conducted to derive pooled estimates of a range of seizure outcomes in children and adults with newly diagnosed epilepsy commenced on antiseizure medication treatment, and to identify factors associated with different outcomes.

METHODS: PubMed/EMBASE were screened for eligible articles between 1 January, 1995 and 1 May, 2021 to include unselected cohort studies with a ≥ 12-month follow-up of seizure outcomes. Proportions of patients seizure free at different follow-up timepoints and their characteristics at the study population level were extracted. The patients were group-wise aggregated using a random-effects model. Primary outcomes were proportions of patients with cumulative 1-year seizure freedom (C1YSF), and 1-year and 5-year terminal seizure freedom (T1YSF and T5YSF). Secondary outcomes included the proportions of patients with early sustained seizure freedom, drug-resistant epilepsy and seizure-free off antiseizure medication at the last follow-up (off antiseizure medications). A separate random-effects meta-analysis was performed for nine predictors of importance.

RESULTS: In total, 39 cohorts (total n = 21,139) met eligibility criteria. They included 15 predominantly adult cohorts (n = 12,024), 19 children (n = 6569), and 5 of mixed-age groups (n = 2546). The pooled C1YSF was 79% (95% confidence interval [CI] 74-83). T1YSF was 68% (95% CI 63-72) and T5YSF was 69% (95% CI 62-75). Children had higher C1YSF (85% vs 68%, p < 0.001) and T1YSF than adult cohorts (74% vs 61%, p = 0.007). For secondary outcomes, 33% (95% CI 27-39) of patients achieved early sustained seizure freedom, 17% (95% CI 13-21) developed drug resistance, and 39% (95% CI 30-50) were off antiseizure medications at the last follow-up. Studies with a longer follow-up duration correlated with higher C1YSF (p < 0.001) and being off antiseizure medications (p = 0.045). Outcomes were not associated with study design (prospective vs retrospective), cohort size, publication year, or the earliest date of recruitment. Predictors of importance in newly diagnosed epilepsy include etiology, epilepsy type, abnormal diagnostics (neuroimaging, examination, and electroencephalogram findings), number of seizure types, and pre-treatment seizure burden.

CONCLUSIONS: Seizure freedom is achieved with currently available antiseizure medications in most patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy, yet this is often not immediate, may not be sustainable, and has not improved over recent decades. Symptomatic etiology, abnormal neuro-diagnostics, and increased pre-treatment seizure burden and seizure types are important predictors for unfavorable outcomes in newly diagnosed epilepsy. The study findings may be used as a quantitative benchmark on the efficacy of future antiseizure medication therapy for this patient population.

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