Key messages

• Seizures in critically ill patients are most commonly due to drug effects, metabolic or toxic disorders, or intracranial mass lesions (tumor, abscess, or hematoma).

• Conditions producing seizures tend either to increase neuronal excitation or to impair neuronal inhibition.

• The development of seizures as part of a metabolic disorder or drug effect do not mean that the patient will have epilepsy.

• A few generalized disorders (e.g. non-ketotic hyperglycemia) may produce partial (focal) seizures.

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