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Effectiveness of Levetiracetam versus phenytoin in preventing seizure in traumatic brain injury patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

OBJECTIVE: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the subsequent Post-traumatic seizure (PTS) is a growing public health concern. Generally, anti-seizure drugs (ASDs) are recommended for PTS prophylaxis and treatment. This meta-analysis aimed to review the current state of knowledge and the evidence for the efficacy and safety of Levetiracetam (LEV) on the incidence of seizure in TBI patients compared to Phenytoin (PHT).

METHODS: A search was carried out based on PubMed, MEDLINE, Europe PMC database, and Cochrane Library up to November 2023. A total of 16 studies (3 randomized clinical trials, 10 retrospective cohort studies, and 3 prospective cohort studies) including 5821 TBI patients included in our meta-analysis. We included studies comparing LEV and PHT after brain injury in both adults and children. Risk of bias assessment was done for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with a risk-of-bias tool (RoB-2) and the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) was used to assess the quality of cohort studies. Two RCTs in our meta-analysis had a high risk of bias, therefore we applied sensitivity analysis to evaluate the robustness of our results.

RESULTS: The most commonly reported dosage for LEV was 500 mg twice daily and for PHT it was 5 mg/kg. There was no significant difference between LEV and PHT groups in reducing the early seizure incidence (OR = 0.85; 95% CI = [0.60, 1.21]; p = 0.375, fixed-effect, I2 = 21.75%). The result of sensitivity analysis for late seizure showed no significant difference between LEV and PHT in reducing the late seizure occurrence after TBI (OR = 0.87; 95% CI = [0.21, 3.67]; p = 0.853, fixed-effect, I2 = 0%). The mortality in TBI patients treated with LEV was not statistically significant compared to the PHT group (OR = 1.11; 95% CI = [0.92, 1.34], p = 0.266). The length of stay in the hospital was not significantly different between the LEV and PHT groups (MD = -1.33; 95% CI = [-4.55, 1.90]; p = 0.421). However, in comparison to PHT, LEV shortened the length of ICU stay (MD = -2.25; 95% CI = [-3.58, -0.91]; p =0.001). In terms of adverse effects, more patients in the PHT group have experienced adverse events compared to LEV but the difference was not significant (OR = 0.69; 95% CI = [0.44, 1.08]; p = 0. 11).

CONCLUSION: The results of our meta-analysis showed LEV and PHT have similar effects on the occurrence of early and late seizures in TBI patients. Therefore, none of the drugs is superior to the other in reducing PTS. However, treating TBI patients with LEV did not shorten the length of hospital stay in comparison to PHT but reduced the length of ICU stay significantly. The analysis showed that patients in the LEV experienced fewer side effects than in the PHT group, while it was not sufficiently clear whether all reported side effects were related to the drug alone or other factors. The mortality was similar between the LEV and PHT groups. Finally, we recommend more high-quality randomized controlled trials to confirm the current findings before making any recommendations in practice.

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