Lessons learned from administration of high-dose methylprednisolone sodium succinate for acute pediatric spinal cord injuries


Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, Ahead of Print.
OBJECTIVEMethylprednisolone sodium succinate (MPSS) has been studied as a pharmacological adjunct that may be given to patients with acute spinal cord injury (ASCI) to improve neurological recovery. MPSS treatment became the standard of care in adults despite a lack of evidence supporting clinical benefit. More recently, new guidelines from neurological surgeon groups recommended no longer using MPSS for ASCI, due to questionable clinical benefit and known complications. However, little information exists in the pediatric population regarding MPSS use in the setting of ASCI. The aim of this paper was to describe steroid use and side effects in patients with ASCI at the authors’ Level 1 pediatric trauma center in order to inform other hospitals that may still use this therapy.METHODSA retrospective chart review was conducted to determine adherence in ordering and delivery according to the guideline of the authors’ institution and to determine types and frequency of complications. Inclusion criteria included age < 17 years, blunt trauma, physician concern for ASCI, and admission for ≥ 24 hours or treatment with high-dose intravenous MPSS. Exclusion criteria included penetrating trauma, no documentation of ASCI, and incomplete medical records. Charts were reviewed for a predetermined list of complications.RESULTSA total of 602 patient charts were reviewed; 354 patients were included in the study. MPSS was administered in 59 cases. In 34 (57.5%) the order was placed correctly. In 13 (38.2%) of these 34 cases, MPSS was administered according to the recommended timeline protocol. Overall, only 13 (22%) of 59 patients received the therapy according to protocol with regard to accurate ordering and administration.Among the patients with ASCI, 20 (55.6%) of the 36 who received steroids had complications, which was a significantly higher rate than in those who did not receive steroids (8 [24.2%] of 33, p = 0.008). Among the patients without ASCI, 10 (43.5%) of the 23 who received steroids also experienced significantly more complications than patients who did not receive steroids (50 [19.1%] of 262, p = 0.006).CONCLUSIONSHigh-dose MPSS for ASCI was not delivered to pediatric patients according to protocol with a high degree of reliability. Patients receiving steroids for pediatric ASCI were significantly more likely to experience complications than patients not receiving steroids. The findings presented, including complications of steroid use, support removal of high-dose MPSS as a treatment option for pediatric ASCI.


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