Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children. Post-traumatic seizures occur in 25% of children with severe traumatic brain injury and may worsen outcomes. Our objective was to use a retrospective cohort study to examine the association between the early seizure occurrence and the choice of early antiseizure medication in children with traumatic brain injury.
Retrospective cohort study using the Pediatric Health Information Systems database, 2010–2017.
Fifty-one U.S. children’s hospitals.
Children (< 18 yr old at admission) with diagnostic codes for traumatic brain injury who were mechanically ventilated at the time of admission and with hospital length of stay greater than 24 hours.
Measurements and Main Results:
A total of 3,479 children were identified via coding and including in the analysis. Patients receiving antiseizure medication starting day 0 with levetiracetam were compared with those receiving phenytoin. The outcome was seizure occurrence, identified using validated International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification and International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis codes. The median (interquartile range) age of patients was 4 (1–11) years, and the most common mechanism of injury was motor vehicle accident, occurring in 960 of patients (27%). A total of 2,342 patients (67%) received levetiracetam on day 0 and 1,137 patients (33%) received phenytoin on day 0. Totally 875 patients (37%) receiving levetiracetam on day 0 developed seizures, compared with 471 patients (41%) receiving phenytoin on day 0 (p = 0.02). Upon multivariable analysis adjusting for age, injury by child abuse, subdural hemorrhage, ethnicity, and admission year, children receiving phenytoin on day 0 were 1.26 (95% CI, 1.07–1.48) times more likely to be associated with post-traumatic seizure occurrence, compared with children receiving levetiracetam on day 0 (p = 0.01).
Early administration of levetiracetam was associated with less-frequent seizure occurrence than early administration of phenytoin in mechanically ventilated children with traumatic brain injury. Additional studies are necessary to determine if the association is causal or due to unmeasured confounders and/or selection bias.