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Seizures in patients undergoing hemodialysis

Yousri M Barri, MD
Thomas A Golper, MD
Section Editor
Jeffrey S Berns, MD
Deputy Editor
Alice M Sheridan, MD


Seizures are not uncommon in patients undergoing hemodialysis [1]. Since they are more frequent in those who require acute dialysis for a severe uremic state, the current trend toward earlier initiation of dialysis has resulted in a lower incidence of seizures among these patients.

Seizure activity generally tends to occur during or shortly after the dialysis procedure because of the hemodynamic and biochemical changes associated with the process [1]. Preventive measures should therefore be initiated in patients with predisposing factors, such as extreme uremia or severe electrolyte abnormalities [2].

This topic will review the causes and treatment of seizures in dialysis patients. The management of seizures in patients without renal failure and a review of the acute complications that may occur during dialysis are presented separately. (See "Overview of the management of epilepsy in adults" and "Acute complications during hemodialysis".)


Many of the causes of seizures are similar in those with and without renal failure. However, some are specifically related to patients with uremia:

Uremic encephalopathy


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Nov 21, 2014.
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