Neonatal seizures are common, often require electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring for diagnosis and management, may be associated with worse neurodevelopmental outcome, and can often be treated with existing anticonvulsants. A neonatal electrographic seizure is defined as a sudden, repetitive, evolving and stereotyped event of abnormal electrographic pattern with amplitude of at least two microvolts and a minimum duration of ten seconds. The diagnosis of neonatal seizures relies heavily on the neurophysiologist’s interpretation of EEG. Consideration of specific criteria for the definition of a neonatal seizure, including seizure duration, location, morphology, evolution, semiology, and overall seizure burden, have utility for both the clinician and researcher. We review the importance of EEG in the diagnosis and management of neonatal seizures, the electrographic characteristics of neonatal seizures, the impact of neonatal seizures on outcome, and tools to aid in the identification of neonatal seizures.
seizures; neonate; electroencephalography; status epilepticus
Induced therapeutic hypothermia after pediatric cardiac arrest is an important intervention. We assessed the feasibility, effectiveness, side effects, and adverse events associated with a standardized surface cooling protocol.
Prospective intervention trial
Urban, tertiary care children’s hospital
12 Pediatric cardiac arrest survivors
Standardized surface cooling protocol
Measurements and Main Results
Patients (age: median 1.5 years, IQR[0.5, 6.25], CPR duration: median 18 min, IQR [10, 45]) were cooled by a standard surface cooling protocol for rapid induction and maintenance of goal rectal Temperature (T) 32–34°C for 24 hours, with prospectively defined rescue protocols. Side effects and clinical interventions were recorded. Median time to rectal T ≤34°C was 1.5 [1, 1.5] hours from cooling initiation and 6 [5, 6.5] hours from arrest. T was documented every 30 minutes. Maintenance target T 32–34°C was attained in 78% (414/531) of measurements, overshoot hypothermia <32°C in 15% (81/531), and overshoot hyperthermia >34°C in 7% (36/531). Mean bias between rectal vs esophageal T was −0.42 °C [95%CI, −0.49 to −0.35], and between rectal and bladder T was 0.16 °C [95%CI, 0.11 to 0.22]. Side effects observed included: hypokalemia <3.0mEq/L in 67% of patients and bradycardia < 2%ile for age in 58%. There were no episodes of bleeding or ventricular tachyarrhythmia that required treatment. Six of 12 (50%) patients survived to discharge.
A standard surface cooling protocol achieved rapid induction of hypothermia after pediatric cardiac arrest. During maintenance of hypothermia, 78% of measures were within target T 32–34°C. Commonly employed temperature sites (esophageal, rectal and bladder) were similar. Overshoot hypothermia and associated side effects were common, but there were no serious adverse events attributable to induced therapeutic hypothermia in this case series. Surface cooling protocols to induce and maintain therapeutic hypothermia after pediatric cardiac arrest are potentially feasible.
induced hypothermia; heart arrest; children
Continuous electroencephalographic monitoring often detects non-convulsive seizures in critically ill children, but is resource intense and has not been shown to improve outcome. As institutions develop clinical pathways for monitoring, it is important to consider how seemingly minor variations may have a substantial impact on resource utilization and cost. We performed a one month prospective observational study in which each patient in a 45-bed pediatric intensive care unit was screened for potential monitoring indications. 247 patients were screened. Minor differences in monitoring indications would have a substantial impact on resource utilization. We then calculated the number of monitoring days that would be required each month based on two strategies that differed in monitoring duration. The prolonged-targeted and brief-targeted strategies would have required 106 and 33 monitoring days, respectively. Based on published non-convulsive seizure occurrence data, these strategies would detect 0.14, and 0.43 patients with seizures per monitoring day performed, respectively. A brief-targeted strategy provides a high yield for non-convulsive seizure identification, but would fail to diagnose some patients with seizures.
EEG Monitoring; Non-Convulsive Seizure; Pediatric
The Common Data Elements (CDEs) initiative is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) interagency effort to standardize naming, definitions, and data structure for clinical research variables. Comparisons of the results of clinical studies of neurological disorders have been hampered by variability in data coding, definitions, and procedures for sample collection. The CDE project objective is to enable comparison of future clinical trials results in major neurological disorders, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. As part of this effort, recommendations for CDEs for research on TBI were developed through a 2009 multi-agency initiative. Following the initial recommendations of the Working Group on Demographics and Clinical Assessment, a separate workgroup developed recommendations on the coding of clinical and demographic variables specific to pediatric TBI studies for subjects younger than 18 years. This article summarizes the selection of measures by the Pediatric TBI Demographics and Clinical Assessment Working Group. The variables are grouped into modules which are grouped into categories. For consistency with other CDE working groups, each variable was classified by priority (core, supplemental, and emerging). Templates were produced to summarize coding formats, guide selection of data points, and provide procedural recommendations. This proposed standardization, together with the products of the other pediatric TBI working groups in imaging, biomarkers, and outcome assessment, will facilitate multi-center studies, comparison of results across studies, and high-quality meta-analyses of individual patient data.
clinical studies; common data elements; data coding; data collection; pediatric; standardization; traumatic brain injury
Clinical neurologic signs considered predictive of adverse outcome after pediatric cardiac arrest (CA) may have a different prognostic value in the setting of therapeutic hypothermia (TH). We aimed to determine the prognostic value of motor and pupillary responses in children treated with TH after CA.
Prospective cohort study.
Pediatric ICU in tertiary care hospital.
Children treated with TH after CA.
Measurements and Main Results
Thirty-five children treated with TH after CA were prospectively enrolled. Examinations were performed by emergency medicine physicians and intensive care unit bedside nurses. Examinations were performed after resuscitation, 1 hour after achievement of hypothermia, during the last hour of hypothermia, 1 hour after achievement of normothermia, after 24 hours of normothermia, and after 72 hours of normothermia. The primary outcome was unfavorable outcome at ICU discharge, defined as a Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category (PCPC) score of 4–6 at hospital discharge. The secondary outcome was death (PCPC = 6). The associations between exam responses and unfavorable outcomes (as both PCPC 4,5,6 and PCPC 6) are presented as positive predictive values (PPV), for both all subjects and subjects not receiving paralytics. Statistical significance for these comparisons was determined using Fisher’s exact test. At all examination times and examination categories PPV is higher for the unfavorable outcome PCPC 4,5,6 than PCPC 6. By normothermia hour 24, absent motor and pupil responses were highly predictive of unfavorable outcome (PCPC 4,5,6) (PPV 100% and p<0.03 for all categories), while at earlier times the predictive value was lower.
Absent motor and pupil responses are more predictive of unfavorable outcome when defined more broadly than when defined as only death. Absent motor and pupil responses during hypothermia and soon after return of spontaneous circulation were not predictive of unfavorable outcome while absent motor and pupil responses once normothermic were predictive of unfavorable short-term outcome. Further study is needed using more robust short-term and long-term outcome measures.
Therapeutic Hypothermia; Neurological Examination; Pediatric; Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy; Cardiac Arrest; Prognosis
Progress in the development of rat models of human periventricular white matter injury (WMI) has been hampered by uncertainty about the developmental window in different rodent strains that coincides with cerebral white matter development in human premature infants. To define strain-specific differences in rat cerebral white matter maturation, we analyzed oligodendrocyte (OL) lineage maturation between postnatal days (P)2 and P14 in three widely studied strains of rat: Sprague-Dawley, Long-Evans and Wistar (W). We previously reported that late OL progenitors (preOL) are the major vulnerable cell type in human periventricular WMI. Strain-specific differences in preOL maturation were found at P2, such that the W rat had the highest percentage and density of preOL relative to the other strains. Overall, at P2, the state of OL maturation was similar to preterm human cerebral white matter. However, by P5, all three strains displayed a similar magnitude and extent of OL maturation that persisted with progressive myelination between P7 and P14. PreOL were the predominant OL lineage stage present in the cerebral cortex through P14, and thus OL lineage maturation occurred latter than in white matter. The hippocampus also displayed a later onset of preOL maturation in all three strains, such that OL lineage maturation and early myelination was not observed to occur until about P14. This timing of preOL maturation in rat cortical gray matter coincided with a similar timing in human cerebral cortex, where preOL also predominated until at least 8 months after full-term birth. These studies support that strain-specific differences in OL lineage immaturity were present in the early perinatal period at about P2, and they define a narrow window of preterm equivalence with human that diminishes by P5. Later developmental onset of preOL maturation in both cerebral cortex and hippocampus coincides with an extended window of potential vulnerability of the OL lineage to hypoxia-ischemia in these gray matter regions.
Oligodendrocytes; Glia; White matter
To define incidence of seizures as a presenting symptom of acute arterial ischemic stroke (AIS) in children and to determine whether younger age, infarct location, or AIS etiology were risk factors for seizure at AIS presentation.
Children aged 2 months to 18 years presenting with AIS from January 2005 to December 2008 were identified from a single center prospective pediatric stroke registry. Clinical data were abstracted, and a neuroradiologist reviewed imaging studies.
Among 60 children who met inclusion criteria, seizures occurred at stroke presentation in 13 (22%). Median age was significantly younger in children who presented with seizures than in those who did not (1.1 versus 10 years, p=0.0009). Seizures were accompanied by hemiparesis in all patients. Three of four children with clinically overt seizures at presentation also had non-convulsive seizures on continuous EEG monitoring.
About one-fifth of children with acute AIS present with seizures. Seizures were always accompanied by focal neurologic deficits. Younger age was a risk factor for seizures at presentation. Seizure at presentation was not associated with infarct location or etiology. Non-convulsive seizures may occur during the acute period.
EEG; non-convulsive seizures; hemiparesis
Therapeutic hypothermia is being utilized as a neuro-protective strategy in neonates, children, and adults. The most common indications are hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in neonates and post cardiac arrest in adults. Electroencephalographic monitoring use is increasing in critical care units, and is sometimes a component of therapeutic hypothermia clinical pathways. Monitoring may detect non-convulsive seizures or non-convulsive status epilepticus, and it may provide prognostic information. We review data regarding indications for therapeutic hypothermia and electroencephalographic monitoring in neonatal, pediatric, and adult critical care units, and discuss technical aspects related to such monitoring.
Cardiac arrest; EEG; neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy; non-convulsive seizures; seizures; therapeutic hypothermia; traumatic brain injury
Continuous EEG (cEEG) monitoring is being used with increasing frequency in critically ill patients, most often to detect non-convulsive seizures. While cEEG is non-invasive and feasible in the critical care setting, it is also expensive and labor intensive, and there has been little study of its impact on clinical care. We aimed to determine prospectively the impact of cEEG on clinical management in critically ill children.
Critically ill children (non-neonates) with acute encephalopathy underwent cEEG. Study enrollment and data collection were prospective.
100 children were studied. EEG monitoring led to specific clinical management changes in 59 children. These included initiating or escalating anti-seizure medications in 43 due to seizure detection, demonstrating that a specific event (subtle movement or vital sign change) was not a seizure in 21, or obtaining urgent neuroimaging that led to a clinical change in 3. In the remaining 41 children, cEEG ruled out the presence of non-convulsive seizures but did not lead to a specific change in clinical management.
EEG monitoring led to changes in clinical management in the majority of patients, suggesting it may have an important role in management of critically ill children. Further study is needed to determine whether the management changes elicited by cEEG improve outcome.
Seizure; Status epilepticus; Pediatric; Critically Ill; Electroencephalogram; EEG monitoring
Electrographic seizures are common in neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, but detailed data are not available regarding seizure incidence during therapeutic hypothermia. The objective of this prospective study was to determine the incidence and timing of electrographic seizures in term neonates undergoing whole-body therapeutic hypothermia for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy as detected by conventional full-array electroencephalography for 72 hours of therapeutic hypothermia and 24 hours of normothermia. Clinical and electroencephalography data were collected from 26 consecutive neonates. Electroencephalograms were reviewed by 2 pediatric neurophysiologists. Electrographic seizures occurred in 17 of 26 (65%) patients. Seizures were entirely nonconvulsive in 8 of 17 (47%), status epilepticus occurred in 4 of 17 (23%), and seizure onset was in the first 48 hours in 13 of 17 (76%) patients. Electrographic seizures were common, were often nonconvulsive, and had onset over a broad range of times in the first days of life.
hypothermia; induced; infant; seizures; electroencephalography; hypoxia-ischemia; brain
Neonatal seizures are often refractory to treatment with initial antiseizure medications. Consequently, clinicians turn to alternatives such as levetiracetam, despite the lack of published data regarding its safety, tolerability, or efficacy in the neonatal population. We report a retrospectively identified cohort of 23 neonates with electroencephalographically confirmed seizures who received levetiracetam. Levetiracetam was considered effective if administration was associated with a greater than 50% seizure reduction within 24 hours. Levetiracetam was initiated at a mean conceptional age of 41 weeks. The mean initial dose was 16 ± 6 mg/kg and the mean maximum dose was 45 ± 19 mg/kg/day. No respiratory or cardiovascular adverse effects were reported or detected. Levetiracetam was associated with a greater than 50% seizure reduction in 35% (8 of 23), including seizure termination in 7. Further study is warranted to determine optimal levetiracetam dosing in neonates and to compare efficacy with other antiseizure medications.
neonatal seizures; status epilepticus; levetiracetam; anticonvulsant
Electroencephalographic (EEG) features may provide objective data regarding prognosis in children resuscitated from cardiac arrest (CA), but therapeutic hypothermia (TH) may impact its predictive value. We aimed to determine whether specific EEG features were predictive of short-term outcome in children treated with TH after CA, both during hypothermia and after return to normothermia.
Thirty-five children managed with a standard clinical TH algorithm after CA were prospectively enrolled. EEG recordings were scored in a standardized manner and categorized. EEG category 1 consisted of continuous and reactive tracings. EEG category 2 consisted of continuous but unreactive tracings. EEG category 3 included those with any degree of discontinuity, burst suppression, or lack of cerebral activity. The primary outcome was unfavorable short-term outcome defined as Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category score of 4–6 (severe disability, vegetative, death) at hospital discharge. Univariate analyses of the association between EEG category and outcome was performed using logistic regression.
For tracings obtained during hypothermia, patients with EEGs in categories 2 or 3 were far more likely to have poor outcome than those in category 1 (OR 10.7, P = 0.023 and OR 35, P = 0.004, respectively). Similarly, for tracings obtained during normothermia, patients with EEGs in categories 2 or 3 were far more likely to have poor outcomes than those in category 1 (OR 27, P = 0.006 and OR 18, P = 0.02, respectively).
A simple EEG classification scheme has predictive value for short-term outcome in children undergoing TH after CA.
Therapeutic hypothermia; Outcome; Pediatric; Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy; Heart arrest; Prognosis
Correct outcome prediction after cardiac arrest in children may improve clinical decision making and family counseling. Various investigators have used EEG to predict outcome with varying success, but one limiting issue is the potential lack of reproducibility of EEG interpretation. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate interobserver agreement using standardized terminology in the interpretation of EEG tracings obtained from critically ill children following cardiac arrest.
3 pediatric neurophysiologists scored 74 EEG samples using standardized categories, terminology, and interpretation rules. Interobserver agreement was evaluated using kappa and intra-class correlation coefficients.
Agreement was substantial for the categories of continuity, burst suppression, sleep architecture, and overall rating. Agreement was moderate for seizure occurrence and inter-ictal epileptiform discharge type. Agreement was fair for inter-ictal epileptiform discharge presence, beta activity, predominant frequency, and fastest frequency. Agreement was slight for maximum voltage and focal slowing presence.
The variability of inter-rater agreement suggests that some EEG features are superior to others for use in a predictive algorithm. Using only reproducible EEG features is needed to ensure the most accurate and consistent predictions. Since even seizure identification had only moderate agreement, studies of non-convulsive seizures in critically ill patients must be conducted and interpreted cautiously.
Electroencephalogram; Interobserver variability; Seizure; Pediatric; Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy; Cardiac Arrest
Intravenous (IV) levetiracetam (LEV) is approved for use in patients older than 16 years and may be useful in critically ill children, although there is little data available regarding pharmacokinetics. We aim to investigate the safety, an appropriate dosing, and efficacy of IV LEV in critically ill children.
We describe a cohort of critically ill children who received IV LEV for status epilepticus, including refractory or nonconvulsive status, or acute repetitive seizures.
There were no acute adverse effects noted. Children had temporary cessation of ongoing refractory status epilepticus, termination of ongoing nonconvulsive status epilepticus, cessation of acute repetitive seizures, or reduction in epileptiform discharges with clinical correlate.
IV LEV was effective in terminating status epilepticus or acute repetitive seizures and well tolerated in critically ill children. Further study is needed to elucidate the role of IV LEV in critically ill children.
levetiracetam; status epilepticus; seizure; pediatric
Continuous EEG monitoring (cEEG) of critically ill patients is frequently utilized to detect non-convulsive seizures (NCS) and status epilepticus (NCSE). The indications for cEEG, as well as when and how to treat NCS, remain unclear. We aimed to describe the current practice of cEEG in critically ill patients to define areas of uncertainty that could aid in designing future research.
We conducted an international survey of neurologists focused on cEEG utilization and NCS management.
Three-hundred and thirty physicians completed the survey. 83% use cEEG at least once per month and 86% manage NCS at least five times per year. The use of cEEG in patients with altered mental status was common (69%), with higher use if the patient had a prior convulsion (89%) or abnormal eye movements (85%). Most respondents would continue cEEG for 24 h. If NCS or NCSE is identified, the most common anticonvulsants administered were phenytoin/fosphenytoin, lorazepam, or levetiracetam, with slightly more use of levetiracetam for NCS than NCSE.
Continuous EEG monitoring (cEEG) is commonly employed in critically ill patients to detect NCS and NCSE. However, there is substantial variability in current practice related to cEEG indications and duration and to management of NCS and NCSE. The fact that such variability exists in the management of this common clinical problem suggests that further prospective study is needed. Multiple points of uncertainty are identified that require investigation.
Continuous EEG; Non-convulsive seizure; Non-convulsive status epilepticus; Anticonvulsant; Monitoring