Oxygen for seizures, more questions than answers: A scoping review


Ictal hypoxaemia is a feature seen in epileptic seizures, characterized by low oxygen saturations, increasing seizure prolongation risk and possibly contributing to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). High flow oxygen is recommended in the management of seizures by UK’s National Institute of Health and Care excellence (NICE); however, the evidence supporting this recommendation is unclear.


To identify the efficacy of oxygen in the seizure treatment.


A scoping review was conducted using PRISMA-ScR guidance. PsycINFO, EMBASE and MEDLINE were searched along with the references section of identified literature. Articles were critically appraised for study, patient, seizure, oxygen therapy and outcome characteristics, summarized and quality-assessed using Sackett’s criteria.


Literature search identified 623 articles of which five met the pre-criteria for full review. One animal study demonstrated favourable effects of oxygen administration. Three human studies also reported favourable effects of oxygen administration, while one reported outcomes that were not statistically significant. Study design concerns in all identified literature confounded the ability to assess efficacy. All five publications were assigned Sackett’s score of 2b.


There is a significant lack of evidence to support the efficacy of oxygen administration in epileptic seizures. Future research is needed.

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