February 6, 2023

Antiseizure Medication Withdrawal Risk Estimation and Recommendations: A Survey of American Academy of Neurology and EpiCARE Members

Abstract found on Wiley Online Library

Objective: Choosing candidates for antiseizure medication (ASM) withdrawal in well-controlled epilepsy is challenging. We evaluated 1) the correlation between neurologists’ seizure risk estimation (“clinician predictions”) versus calculated predictions, 2) how viewing calculated predictions influenced recommendations, and 3) barriers to using risk calculation.

Methods: We asked US and European neurologists to predict two-year seizure risk after ASM withdrawal for hypothetical vignettes. We compared ASM withdrawal recommendations before versus after viewing calculated predictions, using generalized linear models.

Results: Three-hundred forty-six neurologists responded. There was moderate correlation between clinician and calculated predictions (Spearman coefficient 0.42). Clinician predictions varied widely, e.g., predictions ranged 5%-100% for a two-year seizure-free adult without epileptiform abnormalities. Mean clinician predictions exceeded calculated predictions for vignettes with epileptiform abnormalities (e.g., childhood absence epilepsy: clinician 65%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 57%-74%; calculated 46%) and surgical vignettes (e.g., focal cortical dysplasia six-months seizure-free mean clinician 56%, 95% CI 52%-60%; calculated 28%). Clinicians overestimated the influence of epileptiform EEG findings on withdrawal risk (26%, 95% CI 24%-28%) compared with calculators (14%, 95% 13%-14%). Viewing calculated predictions slightly reduced willingness to withdraw (-0.8/10 change, 95% CI -1.0 to -0.7), particularly for vignettes without epileptiform abnormalities. The greatest barrier to calculator use was doubting its accuracy (44%).

Significance: Clinicians overestimated the influence of abnormal EEGs particularly for low-risk patients and overestimated risk and the influence of seizure-free duration for surgical patients, compared with calculators. These data may question widespread ordering of EEGs or time-based seizure-free thresholds for surgical patients. Viewing calculated predictions reduced willingness to withdraw particularly without epileptiform abnormalities.