Objectives: To investigate whether analgesic and sedative drug use during PICU treatment is associated with long-term neurodevelopmental outcome in children who survived meningococcal septic shock.
Design: This study concerned a secondary analysis of data from medical and psychological follow-up of a cross-sectional cohort of all consecutive surviving patients with septic shock and purpura requiring intensive care treatment between 1988 and 2001 at the Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital. At least 4 years after PICU admission, these children showed impairments on several domains of neuropsychological functioning. In the present study, type, number, and dose of sedatives and analgesics were retrospectively evaluated.
Setting: Tertiary care university hospital.
Patients: Seventy-seven meningococcal septic shock survivors (median age, 2.1 yr).
Measurements and Main Results: Forty-five patients (58%) received one or more analgesic and/or sedative drugs during PICU admission, most commonly benzodiazepines (n = 39; 51%), followed by opioids (n = 23; 30%). In total, 12 different kinds of analgesic or sedative drugs were given. The use and dose of opioids were significantly associated with poor test outcome on full-scale intelligence quotient (p = 0.02; Z = –2.28), verbal intelligence quotient (p = 0.02; Z = –2.32), verbal intelligence quotient subtests (verbal comprehension [p = 0.01; Z = –2.56] and vocabulary [p = 0.01; Z = –2.45]), and visual attention/executive functioning (Trial Making Test part B) (p = 0.03; Z = –2.17). In multivariate analysis adjusting for patient and disease characteristics, the use of opioids remained significant on most neuropsychological tests.
Conclusions: The use of opioids during PICU admission was significantly associated with long-term adverse neuropsychological outcome independent of severity of illness scores in meningococcal septic shock survivors.