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

Tasker, R. C.; Goodkin, H. P.; Sanchez Fernandez, I.; Chapman, K. E.; Abend, N. S.; Arya, R.; Brenton, J. N.; Carpenter, J. L.; Gaillard, W. D.; Glauser, T. A.; Goldstein, J.; Helseth, A. R.; Jackson, M. C.; Kapur, K.; Mikati, M. A.; Peariso, K.; Wainwright, M. S.; Wilfong, A. A.; Williams, K.; Loddenkemper, T.

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2016 Aug 9; 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.

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