Evidence for a rapid action of levetiracetam compared to topiramate in refractory partial epilepsy

Luigi M. Specchio, Giovanni Boero, Nicola Specchio, Giusi De Agazio, Alessia De Palo, Marina de Tommaso, Ettore Beghi, Angela La Neve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this observational study was to compare the efficacy of levetiracetam and topiramate during the first 15 days of add-on treatment in adults with refractory partial epilepsy. Two cohorts of patients with ≥3 simple or complex partial seizures with or without secondary generalisation per month over an 8-week baseline period received levetiracetam or topiramate in two distinct phases, in addition to standard antiepileptic treatment. During the first 15 days of the therapy, levetiracetam was added at the dosage of 250 mg b.i.d. or topiramate at 25 mg o.i.d. Efficacy parameters included number of seizure-free days (SFDs), mean and percent reduction in seizure frequency (in general and by type), and number of seizure-free patients in the first 15 days of treatment compared to last 15 days of the baseline period. Sixty-one patients received levetiracetam and 61 topiramate. The general characteristics of the two treatment groups were similar. The total number of SFDs during 15 days before treatment was 637 with levetiracetam and 621 with topiramate; in the 15-day evaluation period the SFDs increased to 748 (17.4%) and 668 (7.6%), respectively (ANOVA, p <0.05). Twenty-six patients (42.6%) taking levetiracetam were seizure free compared to 10 (16.4%) receiving topiramate (chi-square, p = 0.003). This open-label non-controlled study suggests an early efficacy of levetiracetam as add-on therapy in patients with refractory partial epilepsy: These results appear to confirm previous indications of a rapid onset of action and seem to suggest first evaluation of the patient at the dose of 500 mg/day before increasing to the considered minimum standard dose of 1000 mg/day, as some patients could respond to the starting dose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-116
Number of pages5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Levetiracetam
  • Rapid onset action
  • Refractory partial epilepsy
  • Seizure-free days
  • Topiramate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)


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