Variation in Anticonvulsant Selection and Electroencephalographic Monitoring Following Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in Children-Understanding Resource Availability in Sites Participating in a Comparative Effectiveness Study

Kurz, J. E.; Poloyac, S. M.; Abend, N. S.; Fabio, A.; Bell, M. J.; Wainwright, M. S.

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2016 Jun 1; 17(7):649-657


OBJECTIVES: Early posttraumatic seizures may contribute to worsened outcomes after traumatic brain injury. Evidence to guide the evaluation and management of early posttraumatic seizures in children is limited. We undertook a survey of current practices of continuous electroencephalographic monitoring, seizure prophylaxis, and the management of early posttraumatic seizures to provide essential information for trial design and the development of posttraumatic seizure management pathways. DESIGN: Surveys were sent to site principal investigators at all 43 sites participating in the Approaches and Decisions in Acute Pediatric TBI trial at the time of the survey. Surveys consisted of 12 questions addressing strategies to 1) implement continuous electroencephalographic monitoring, 2) posttraumatic seizure prophylaxis, 3) treat acute posttraumatic seizures, 4) treat status epilepticus and refractory status epilepticus, and 5) monitor antiseizure drug levels. SETTING: Institutions comprised a mixture of free-standing children's hospitals and university medical centers across the United States and Europe. SUBJECTS: Site principal investigators of the Approaches and Decisions in Acute Pediatric TBI trial. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Continuous electroencephalographic monitoring was available in the PICU in the overwhelming majority of clinical sites (98%); however, the plans to operationalize such monitoring for children varied considerably. A similar majority of sites report that administration of prophylactic antiseizure medications is anticipated in children (93%); yet, a minority reports that a specified protocol for treatment of posttraumatic seizures is in place (43%). Reported medication choices varied substantially between sites, but the majority of sites reported pentobarbital for refractory status epilepticus (81%). The presence of treatment protocols for seizure prophylaxis, early posttraumatic seizures, posttraumatic status epilepticus, and refractory status epilepticus was associated with decreased reported medications (all p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: This study reports the current management practices for early posttraumatic seizures in select academic centers after pediatric severe traumatic brain injury. The substantial variation in continuous electroencephalographic monitoring implementation, choice of seizure prophylaxis medications, and management of early posttraumatic seizures across institutions was reported, signifying the areas of clinical uncertainty that will help provide focused design of clinical trials. Although sites with treatment protocols reported a decreased number of medications for the scenarios described, completion of the Approaches and Decisions in Acute Pediatric TBI trial will be able to determine if these protocols lead to decreased variability in medication administration in children at the clinical sites.

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