Refractory Status Epilepticus in Children: Intention to Treat With Continuous Infusions of Midazolam and Pentobarbital. (Emrath)

Tasker RC, et al. Refractory Status Epilepticus in Children: Intention to Treat With Continuous Infusions of Midazolam and Pentobarbital. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2016 Oct;17(10):968-975.

OBJECTIVE: To describe pediatric patients with convulsive refractory status epilepticus in whom there is intention to use an IV anesthetic for seizure control.

DESIGN: Two-year prospective observational study evaluating patients (age range, 1 mo to 21 yr) with refractory status epilepticus not responding to two antiepileptic drug classes and treated with continuous infusion of anesthetic agent.

SETTING: Nine pediatric hospitals in the United States.

PATIENTS: In a cohort of 111 patients with refractory status epilepticus (median age, 3.7 yr; 50% male), 54 (49%) underwent continuous infusion of anesthetic treatment.

MAIN RESULTS: The median (interquartile range) ICU length of stay was 10 (3-20) days. Up to four “cycles” of serial anesthetic therapy were used, and seizure termination was achieved in 94% by the second cycle. Seizure duration in controlled patients was 5.9 (1.9-34) hours for the first cycle and longer when a second cycle was required (30 [4-120] hr; p = 0.048). Midazolam was the most frequent first-line anesthetic agent (78%); pentobarbital was the most frequently used second-line agent after midazolam failure (82%). An electroencephalographic endpoint was used in over half of the patients; higher midazolam dosing was used with a burst suppression endpoint. In midazolam nonresponders, transition to a second agent occurred after a median of 1 day. Most patients (94%) experienced seizure termination with these two therapies.

CONCLUSIONS: Midazolam and pentobarbital remain the mainstay of continuous infusion therapy for refractory status epilepticus in the pediatric patient. The majority of patients experience seizure termination within a median of 30 hours. These data have implications for the design and feasibility of future intervention trials. That is, testing a new anesthetic anticonvulsant after failure of both midazolam and pentobarbital is unlikely to be feasible in a pediatric study, whereas a decision to test an alternative to pentobarbital, after midazolam failure, may be possible in a multicenter multinational study.


Effectiveness of Pharmacological Therapies for Intracranial Hypertension in Children With Severe Traumatic Brain Injury-Results From an Automated Data Collection System Time-Synched to Drug Administration.

Shein SL, et al. Effectiveness of Pharmacological Therapies for Intracranial Hypertension in Children With Severe Traumatic Brain Injury-Results From an Automated Data Collection System Time-Synched to Drug Administration. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2016 Mar; 17(3):236-45.

OBJECTIVES: To describe acute cerebral hemodynamic effects of medications commonly used to treat intracranial hypertension in children with traumatic brain injury. Currently, data supporting the efficacy of these medications are insufficient.

DESIGN: In this prospective observational study, intracranial hypertension (intracranial pressure ≥ 20 mm Hg for > 5 min) was treated by clinical protocol. Administration times of medications for intracranial hypertension (fentanyl, 3% hypertonic saline, mannitol, and pentobarbital) were prospectively recorded and synchronized with an automated database that collected intracranial pressure and cerebral perfusion pressure every 5 seconds. Intracranial pressure crises confounded by external stimulation or mechanical ventilator adjustments were excluded. Mean intracranial pressure and cerebral perfusion pressure from epochs following drug administration were compared with baseline values using Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance and Dunn test. Frailty modeling was used to analyze the time to intracranial pressure crisis resolution. Mixed-effect models compared intracranial pressure and cerebral perfusion pressure 5 minutes after the medication versus baseline and rates of treatment failure.

SETTING: A tertiary care children’s hospital.

PATIENTS: Children with severe traumatic brain injury (Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤ 8).


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We analyzed 196 doses of fentanyl, hypertonic saline, mannitol, and pentobarbital administered to 16 children (median: 12 doses per patient). Overall, intracranial pressure significantly decreased following the administration of fentanyl, hypertonic saline, and pentobarbital. After controlling for administration of multiple medications, intracranial pressure was decreased following hypertonic saline and pentobarbital administration; cerebral perfusion pressure was decreased following fentanyl and was increased following hypertonic saline administration. After adjusting for significant covariates (including age, Glasgow Coma Scale score, and intracranial pressure), hypertonic saline was associated with a two-fold faster resolution of intracranial hypertension than either fentanyl or pentobarbital. Fentanyl was significantly associated with the most frequent treatment failure.

CONCLUSIONS: Intracranial pressure decreased after multiple drug administrations, but hypertonic saline may warrant consideration as the first-line drug for treating intracranial hypertension, as it was associated with the most favorable cerebral hemodynamics and fastest resolution of intracranial hypertension.