Congratulations to Drs. Katharina M. Busl, Christopher P. Robinson, Bakhtawar Ahmed, Maria Bruzzone, and Carolina B. Maciel on the publication of “Utilization of the ketogenic diet for adults with status epilepticus. which appears in the July 2023 issue of Epilepsy & Behavior.
The ketogenic diet (KD) is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet with therapeutic potential in refractory seizures, both in outpatient and inpatient settings. Successful implementation of KD involves a multifaceted, interdisciplinary approach to address anticipated challenges. We sought to characterize the utilization of KD among healthcare providers caring for adults with status epilepticus (SE).
We distributed a web-based survey through professional societies, including the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), Neurocritical Care Society (NCS), American Epilepsy Society (AES), Neuro Anesthesia and Critical Care Society (NACCS), and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and via research contacts. We asked respondents about practice experience and experience using KD as a treatment for SE. Descriptive statistics and Chi-square tests were used to analyze the results.
Of 156 respondents, 80% of physicians and 18% of non-physicians reported experience with KD for SE. Anticipated difficulty in achieving ketosis (36.3%), lack of expertise (24.2%), and lack of resources (20.9%) were identified as the most important barriers limiting the utilization of KD. The absence of dietitians (37.1%) or pharmacists (25.7%) support was the most important missing resource. Reasons for stopping KD included perceived ineffectiveness (29.1%), difficulty achieving ketosis (24.6%), and side effects (17.3%). Academic centers had more experience with the use of KD and greater EEG monitoring availability and fewer barriers to its implementation. The need for randomized clinical trials supporting efficacy (36.5%) and better practice guidelines for implementation and maintenance of KD (29.6%) were cited most frequently as factors to increase utilization of KD.
This study identifies important barriers to the utilization of KD as a treatment for SE despite evidence supporting its efficacy in the appropriate clinical context, namely lack of resources and interdisciplinary support, and lack of established practice guidelines. Our results highlight the need for future research to improve understanding of the efficacy and safety of KD along with better interdisciplinary collaborations to increase its utilization.