Critical Care, Improving Outcomes, Neurology, Twelve Trials of Christmas!

Day Ten of Christmas: Keppra Post-Arrest.

Welcome to the Twelve Trials of Christmas series on EMinFocus! This is the tenth of twelve posts in a series where I ramble on various topics for which I would love to see an EM study done. I’ve taken morsels of prior studies (case series, small trials, etc) and highlight reasons on why I believe this study would benefit EM. Some may pan out, some may not. All of them I would be highly interested in assisting with in any way possible to continue to advance our fine specialty.

Even after a successful initial resuscitation of a cardiopulmonary arrest, there is then significant concern for the patients neurological outcome.  Sure, there is the  hypothermia protocol, but is there any other neuroprotective drugs that we may be able to trial post arrest to try and improve neuro outcomes?

Let’s first say this: we’re talking about mouse studies, so it’s a leap of faith.  However, levetiracetam is quite safe, and really, what harm, post arrest, could a few doses of Keppra for the first 72 hours really do?  In mouse models, its been shown to have neuroprotective effects in experimental stroke, ICH, and neurotrauma.  ( 1 , 2 )

There was a study published in March 2014 in regards to anti-epileptics (phenytoin, levetiracetam, valproate, clonazepam, propofol, midazolam), which showed no measurable difference when administered to patients post-arrest.  However, in this study, patients were already placed in the ICU and the requirement was to be placed on continuous EEG monitoring within 12 hours of hospital presentation.  If the EEG was positive, they were enrolled in the study, and initiated on some anti-epileptic (being on propofol post intubation, apparently allowed them into the protocol under the propofol group).  Essentially, this study is useless to the ED and should not stray us from doing a good study to begin Levetiracetam as early as possible in cardiac arrests.  We know that the later we attempt to reverse status epilepticus, the more difficult a time we will have(and here, they didn’t attempt for HOURS!), so why not make a good attempt at giving arrests the best possible outcome with an easy study?  Hang a bag of Levetiracetam vs a bag of saline on all arrests, those that survive, compare neurologic outcomes.  This is an easy one to pass through the IRB – cant hurt, may do a world of help.


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