Risk of aspiration pneumonia after an epileptic seizure: A retrospective analysis of 1634 adult patients

John C. DeToledo, Merredith R. Lowe, Jose Gonzalez, Helena Haddad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We reviewed the incidence of aspiration pneumonia secondary to seizures in three populations of patients with chronic epilepsy: 733 outpatients seen in an Epilepsy Foundation clinic; 806 adult patients admitted to two university video telemetry units; and 95 institutionalized, profoundly retarded adult patients with chronic epilepsy. Two of the 733 adults who had seizures in the outpatient setting and 2 of the 806 patients who had one or more epileptic seizures in the telemetry units developed aspiration pneumonia. In the 95 institutionalized patients, there were 17 instances of aspiration pneumonia after a generalized seizure and 32 instances of aspiration unrelated to seizures over a 12-month period. Our findings suggest that aspiration pneumonia is not a common complication of seizures in otherwise healthy adults. The increased incidence of aspiration in developmentally delayed individuals seems to derive from a combination of factors. Increased oral secretions, impaired swallowing mechanisms, and difficulty in attaining adequate patient positioning significantly increased the risk of aspiration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-595
Number of pages3
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Aspiration
  • Convulsions
  • Epilepsy
  • Lateral decubitus
  • Pneumonia
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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