Hypothermia and barbiturate coma for refractory status epilepticus

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Three pediatric patients with generalized status epilepticus unresponsive to therapy with conventional anticonvulsants were successfully treated with moderate hypothermia (30± to 31±C) and barbiturate coma with thiopental. All 3 patients were treated with thiopental at doses producing burst suppression or an isoelectric tracing on the EEG and thiopental and barbiturate levels were followed sequentially in the plasma. Continuous thiopental infusion rates of 5 to 55 mg/kg ± h maintained burst suppression and correlated with plasma thiopental levels of 25 to 40 mg/dl. Total doses of thiopental used to obtain and maintain burst suppression ranged from 15 to 50 g over 48 to 120 h. In all 3 patients, control of the status epilepticus was obtained. Moderate hypothermia and thiopental barbiturate coma are indicated in patients with generalized tonic-clonic status epilepticus which cannot be controlled with standard anticonvulsant drug therapy. This regimen has the advantage that the patient can be managed in an ICU without the need for general anesthesia with volatile anesthetic agents.

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