Sedation and Analgesia Influence Electroencephalography Monitoring in Pediatric Neurocritical Care

Giulia M. Benedetti, Faye S. Silverstein, Stephanie M. Rau, Shannon G. Lester, Marco H. Benedetti, Renée A. Shellhaas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objectives: We assessed neuroactive medication use in critically ill children who require neurological consultation and evaluated the associations between administration of these medications and continuous electroencephalography (cEEG) utilization and seizure frequency. Methods: We evaluated exposure to sedatives, analgesics, anesthetics, and paralytics in consecutive patients (0 days to 18 years) for whom neurological consultation was requested in three intensive care units (ICUs) [neonatal (NICU), pediatric (PICU), and cardiothoracic (PCTU)]) at one children's hospital. We assessed cEEG usage and seizure incidence in relation to drug exposure. Results: From November 2015 to November 2016, 300 consecutive patients were evaluated (93 NICU, 139 PICU, and 68 PCTU). Ninety-seven (32%) were receiving ≥1 sedative infusion at the time of consultation [NICU 7 (8%), PICU 50(36%), PCTU 40 (58%%]; 91 (30%) received ≥1 paralytic agent within the preceding 24 hours. Continuous electroencephalography was performed more often for patients treated with sedative infusions (81 of 97 versus 133 of 203, P = 0.001) and paralytic medications (80 of 91 versus 134 of 209, P < 0.001) within 24 hours preceding consultation than those who were not. Sixty-eight of 214 (32%) had electrographic seizures (65 of 68 within initial 24 hours of monitoring); seizures were less common among patients who had received sedative infusions (18 of 81 versus 51 of 133, P = 0.014). In multivariable analysis of seizure likelihood, only younger age was associated with increased risk (P = 0.037). Conclusions: Critically ill infants and children are frequently treated with sedatives, anesthetics, analgesics, and paralytics. Neuroactive medications limit bedside neurological assessments and, in this cohort, were associated with increased cEEG usage. Our data underscore the need to study the effect of these medications on clinical care and long-term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-64
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Neurology
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Critical illness
  • Intensive care
  • Neuroactive drugs
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Seizures


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