Nervous System Home > What Is Phenytoin Used For?

Phenytoin is used for treating certain types of epileptic seizures, including generalized tonic-clonic seizures, complex partial seizures, and seizures during brain surgery. The chewable tablet and oral liquid forms of phenytoin are particularly useful for children with epilepsy. Occasionally, phenytoin is also used for something other than the conditions mentioned above. Among these potential "off-label" phenytoin uses are the treatment of nerve pain, migraine headaches, and irregular heart rhythms.

What Is Phenytoin Used For? -- An Overview

Phenytoin (Dilantin®) is a prescription medication used for treating certain types of seizures in people with epilepsy. There are several different phenytoin products: Dilantin Kapseals® (phenytoin sodium extended-release capsules), Dilantin Infatabs® (phenytoin chewable tablets) and Dilantin-125® (phenytoin oral suspension). Specifically, phenytoin is approved to control the following types of seizures:
 
  • Complex partial seizures -- complex partial seizures involve decreased consciousness ("complex") and affect only one part of the brain ("partial")
     
  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizures -- these seizures, which are also known as "grand mal" seizures, affect the whole brain ("generalized"), and involve muscle rigidity and contractions ("tonic-clonic")
     
  • Seizures during brain surgery.
     
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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