Evidence for continuous EEG monitoring in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) is increasing. However, 24/7 access to EEG is not routinely available in most centers, and clinical management is often informed by more limited EEG resources. The experience of EEG was reviewed in a tertiary PICU where 24/7 EEG cover is unavailable.
Retrospective EEG and clinical review of 108 PICU patients. Correlations were carried out between EEG and clinical variables including mortality. The role of EEG in clinical decision making was documented.
One hundred ninety-six EEGs were carried out in 108 PICU patients over 2.5 years (434 hours of recording). After exclusion of 1 outlying patient with epileptic encephalopathy, 136 EEGs (median duration, 65 minutes; range, 20 minutes to 4 hours 40 minutes) were included. Sixty-two patients (57%) were less than 12 months old. Seizures were detected in 18 of 107 patients (17%); 74% of seizures were subclinical; 72% occurred within the first 30 minutes of recording. Adverse EEG findings were associated with high mortality. Antiepileptic drug use was high in the studied population irrespective of EEG seizure detection. Prevalence of epileptiform discharges and EEG seizures diminished with increasing levels of sedation.
EEG provides important diagnostic information in a large proportion of PICU patients. In the absence of 24/7 EEG availability, empirical antiepileptic drug utilization is high.