Background: Paroxysmal sympathetic hyperactivity (PSH) is characterized by the abnormal excessive sympathetic response to acute cerebral insult. There is a paucity of data about this condition in children. This study was planned to analyze the incidence of PSH among children requiring neurocritical care and its association with the outcome.
Materials and methods: The study was conducted in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) of a tertiary care hospital over a period of 10 months. Children of age 1 month to 12 years admitted with neurocritical illnesses were included. Children who were declared brain dead after initial resuscitation were excluded from the study. The criterion laid by Moeller et al. was used for the diagnosis for PSH.
Results: During the study period, 54 children requiring neurocritical care were included in the study. The incidence of PSH was 5/54 (9.2%). Additionally, 30 (55.5%) children had less than four criteria for PSH and were termed as “incomplete PSH.” Children with all four criteria for PSH had a significantly longer duration of mechanical ventilation, PICU stay, and higher PRISM III scores. Children with less than four criteria for PSH also had a longer duration of mechanical ventilation and stay. However, there was no significant difference in mortality.
Conclusion: Paroxysmal sympathetic hyperactivity is common in children with neurological illnesses admitted to the PICU and is associated with longer mechanical ventilation and stay in PICU. They also had higher illness severity scores. Timely diagnosis of the condition and appropriate management is required to improve the outcome of these children.
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