Evidence-based Anti-seizure Monotherapy in Newly Diagnosed Epilepsy: a New Approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To describe the process and results of the updated Swedish practice guidelines for monotherapy in epilepsy.

Materials and Methods
The Swedish Medical Products Agency led the process together with medical experts. Evidence rating in accordance with the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) template was linked to the Cochrane group's GRADE system. Evidence from recently published trials and meta‐analyses was added. A national expert panel participated in the project and contributed their clinical experience.

In seizures with focal onset, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, or levetiracetam is recommended for children and adults (ILAE level A‐C for adults/Cochrane level strong for children and adults). Oxcarbazepine is an alternative for children, although its level A evidence, in a single class I trial, could relate to poor phenytoin tolerability. Eslicarbazepine acetate, lacosamide, and zonisamide are alternatives for adults and gabapentin for the elderly (ILAE level A). Carbamazepine is not a first choice for the elderly due to its high potential for interactions. In generalized epilepsy with tonic‐clonic seizures (GTC), lamotrigine, levetiracetam, and sodium valproate are recommended for children and adults (ILAE level C‐D/Cochrane level moderate‐strong) although sodium valproate is contraindicated in girls and women of childbearing age unless special considerations are met. Ethosuximide is the first choice in absence epilepsy without GTC (ILAE level A).

Lamotrigine and levetiracetam can be used as first choice for focal seizures and generalized epilepsy with GTC, suitable in all age‐groups and for both men and women. Recommendations for GTC seizures have lower evidence than those for focal seizures.


External organisations
  • Swedish medical products agency
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Karolinska University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Neurology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-332
Number of pages10
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Issue number4
Early online date2020 Jul 6
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Kristina Källén and Maria Dahlin should be considered joint senior authors. Corresponding author: Kristina Källén MD, Associate Professor