Pediatric neurologic emergencies

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Neuroemergencies are life-threatening situations in which, whatever the cause, common pathologic phenomena result in secondary brain lesions. The goal of critical care management is to stop these self-aggravating processes as soon as possible. Initial resuscitation is devoted to control of the airway and hemodynamic and hydroelectrolytic stabilization. With mass lesions, minimal computed tomographic exploration immediately precedes surgical decompression. Further critical care adapted to the child’s needs requires multimodal monitoring. Normoventilation, deep sedation, osmotherapy with mannitol or hypertonic saline solutions, and optimization of mean arterial pressure are the basis of management. A purely pressure-driven approach aimed at controlling cerebral perfusion pressure could be potentially harmful, and associated measurement of blood flow velocity with transcranial Doppler and jugular bulb oxygen saturation monitoring allows an approach to cerebral blood flow and metabolism. Outcome can be improved in dangerous situations such as severe brain injuries, cerebral arteriovenous malformation rupture, status epilepticus, and acute hydrocephalus, provided that emergency management could be applied efficiently.

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