BACKGROUND: During the end-of-life (EOL) phase of glioma patients, a rapid deterioration in neurological functioning may interfere with the oral intake of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). We aimed to assess the feasibility of non-oral AED treatment in an out-of-hospital setting according to an expert-based guideline.
METHODS: Glioma patients with a history of epilepsy, in whom further antitumor therapy was considered to be no longer meaningful, were recruited at two Dutch hospitals. As soon as swallowing difficulties developed, the patient's caregiver administered prophylactic treatment with buccal clonazepam. Acute seizures were treated with intranasal midazolam. We evaluated the adherence to the study medication, seizure prevalence, and caregiver's satisfaction.
RESULTS: Of the 34 patients who were approached, 25 gave consent to participate and 23 had died at the end of the study. Thirteen of 19 patients (68.4 %) who had developed swallowing difficulties showed adherence to the study protocol. Thirteen patients used prophylactic buccal clonazepam, of which eight patients remained seizure-free until death. Six patients received treatment with intranasal midazolam at least once. In all patients, seizure control was reached. None of the patients needed to be transferred to the hospital due to recurrent seizures. All caregivers were to some degree satisfied with the use of the study medication.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that it is feasible to treat seizures with a combination of non-oral benzodiazepines in the EOL phase of glioma patients, as it seems to provide an important level of comfort among caregivers to be able to manage seizures at home.