Sedation Management for Critically Ill Children with Pre-Existing Cognitive Impairment

Academic Article


  • Objective: To compare current analgesia and sedation management practices between critically ill children with pre-existing cognitive impairment and critically ill neurotypical children, including possible indicators of therapeutic efficacy. Study design: This study used secondary analysis of prospective data from the RESTORE clinical trial, with 2449 children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit and receiving mechanical ventilation for acute respiratory failure. Subjects with a baseline Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category ≥3 were defined as subjects with cognitive impairment, and differences between groups were explored using regression methods accounting for pediatric intensive care unit as a cluster variable. Results: This study identified 412 subjects (17%) with cognitive impairment. Compared with neurotypical subjects, subjects with cognitive impairment were older (median, years, 6.2 vs 1.4; P <.001) with more severe pediatric acute respiratory distress syndrome (40% vs 33%; P =.009). They received significantly lower cumulative doses of opioids (median, mg/kg, 14.2 vs 16.2; P <.001) and benzodiazepines (10.6 vs 14.4; P <.001). Three nonverbal subjects with cognitive impairment received no analgesia or sedation. Subjects with cognitive impairment were assessed as having more study days awake and calm and fewer study days with an episode of pain. They were less likely to be assessed as having inadequate pain/sedation management or unplanned endotracheal/invasive tube removal. Subjects with cognitive impairment had more documented iatrogenic withdrawal symptoms than neurotypical subjects. Conclusions: Subjects with cognitive impairment in this study received less medication, but it is unclear whether they have authentically lower analgesic and/or sedative requirements or are vulnerable to inadequate assessment of discomfort because of the lack of validated assessment tools. We recommend the development of pain and sedation assessment tools specific to this patient population.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Best KM; Asaro LA; Curley MAQ; Wypij D; Allen GL; Angus DC; Ascenzi JA; Bateman ST; Borasino S; Bowens CD
  • Start Page

  • 204
  • End Page

  • 211.e1
  • Volume

  • 206