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Pediatric neurocritical care: is it time to come of age?

Tasker, Robert C

doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e328331e813
Neurology: Edited by Scott L. Pomeroy and Robert C. Tasker

Purpose of review Neurocritical care in adults with life-threatening neurological disease is a distinct discipline that has developed out of critical care medicine and neurology. This review considers whether it is time for such a specialized service to be developed in pediatrics.

Recent findings Recent reports describe how some institutions and pediatric professional bodies have set about transferring the specialist neurocritical care experience in adults to pediatric practice. The issue, now, is whether such a development would improve pediatric healthcare, medical education and training in the newly defined field. Adult neurocritical care did not develop in a void. The historical influences were the polio epidemics and the investment in experimental neuroprotection. These traditions provided a foundation for success in recent clinical trials, patient outcomes and healthcare research. Pediatric neurocritical care does not have the equivalent parallels and track record in healthcare research. Size of practice and casemix is also significantly different, with one-third of potential beneficiaries of the new field having a primary medical, rather than neurological, disorder. Three types of development for pediatric neurocritical services are, therefore, suggested by the literature and the implications of these on cross-discipline staffing and education are discussed.

Summary Pediatric neurocritical care is the new frontier for pediatric critical care medicine and pediatric neurology. There is sufficient specialist interest and momentum for the development of a multidisciplinary collaboration that has the aim of improving patient care.

Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge, UK

Correspondence to Robert C Tasker, MB, MD, FRCP, University Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, Box 116, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK Tel: +44 1223 217360; e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.