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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Safety and feasibility of switching from phenytoin to levetiracetam monotherapy for glioma-related seizure control following craniotomy: a randomized phase II pilot study

  • Author(s): Lim, Daniel A.
  • Tarapore, Phiroz
  • Chang, Edward
  • Burt, Marlene
  • Chakalian, Lenna
  • Barbaro, Nicholas
  • Chang, Susan
  • Lamborn, Kathleen R.
  • McDermott, Michael W.
  • et al.

Seizures are common in patients with gliomas, and phenytoin (PHT) is frequently used to control tumor-related seizures. PHT, however, has many undesirable side effects (SEs) and drug interactions with glioma chemotherapy. Levetiracetam (LEV) is a newer antiepileptic drug (AED) with fewer SEs and essentially no drug interactions. We performed a pilot study testing the safety and feasibility of switching patients from PHT to LEV monotherapy for postoperative control of glioma-related seizures. Over a 13-month period, 29 patients were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to initiate LEV therapy within 24 h of surgery or to continue PHT therapy. 6 month follow-up data were available for 15 patients taking LEV and for 8 patients taking PHT. In the LEV group, 13 patients (87%) were seizure-free. In the PHT group, 6 patients (75%) were seizure-free. Reported SEs at 6 months was as follows (%LEV/%PHT group): dizziness (0/14), difficulty with coordination (0/29), depression (7/14) lack of energy or strength (20/43), insomnia (40/43), mood instability (7/0). The pilot data presented here suggest that it is safe to switch patients from PHT to LEV monotherapy following craniotomy for supratentorial glioma. A large-scale, double-blinded, randomized control trial of LEV versus PHT is required to determine seizure control equivalence and better assess differences in SEs.

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