Continuous electroencephalography in pediatric traumatic brain injury: Seizure characteristics and outcomes

Jarin Vaewpanich, Karin Reuter-Rice
Epilepsy & Behavior: E&B 2016, 62: 225-30

BACKGROUND: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of pediatric morbidity and mortality. Secondary injury that occurs as a result of a direct impact plays a crucial role in patient prognosis. The guidelines for the management of severe TBI target treatment of secondary injury. Posttraumatic seizure, one of the secondary injury sequelae, contributes to further damage to the injured brain. Continuous electroencephalography (cEEG) helps detect both clinical and subclinical seizure, which aids early detection and prompt treatment.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between cEEG findings in pediatric traumatic brain injury and neurocognitive/functional outcomes.

METHODS: This study focuses on a subgroup of a larger prospective parent study that examined children admitted to a level-1 trauma hospital. The subgroup included sixteen children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) who received cEEG monitoring. Characteristics included demographics, cEEG reports, and antiseizure medication. We also examined outcome scores at the time of discharge and 4-6weeks postdischarge using the Glasgow Outcome Scale - Extended Pediatrics and center-based speech pathology neurocognitive/functional evaluation scores.

RESULTS: Sixteen patients were included in this study. Patients with severe TBI made up the majority of those that received cEEG monitoring. Nonaccidental trauma was the most frequent TBI etiology (75%), and subdural hematoma was the most common lesion diagnosed by CT scan (75%). Fifteen patients received antiseizure medication, and levetiracetam was the medication of choice. Four patients (25%) developed seizures during PICU admission, and 3 patients had subclinical seizures that were detected by cEEG. One of these patients also had both a clinical and subclinical seizure. Nonaccidental trauma was an etiology of TBI in all patients with seizures. Characteristics of a nonreactive pattern, severe/burst suppression, and lack of sleep architecture, on cEEG, were associated with poor neurocognitive/functional outcome.

CONCLUSION: Continuous electroencephalography demonstrated a pattern that associated seizures and poor outcomes in patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, particularly in a subgroup of patients with nonaccidental trauma. Best practice should include institution-based TBI cEEG protocols, which may detect seizure activity early and promote outcomes. Future studies should include examination of individual cEEG characteristics to help improve outcomes in pediatric TBI.

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