BACKGROUND: A targeted treatment approach is increasingly promoted in epilepsy management.
AIM: To investigate if etiology (both established or initially presumed) influences antiepileptic drug choice of experts in neonatal seizures.
METHODS: An invitation to participate to a web-based questionnaire was sent to Italian pediatric neurologists affiliated to the Italian Society of Pediatric Neurology (SINP).
RESULTS: 19 pediatric neurologists from different centers, all consultants of third level Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) answered. As first-line drug phenobarbital was the most common choice, it was used in 79% of cases of acute symptomatic seizures, in 63% of structural epilepsy, in 42% of genetic epilepsies. As second-line drug phenytoin was used by 58% in acute symptomatic seizures, 37% in structural epilepsy, 5% in genetic epilepsy. Pyridoxine/pyridoxalphosphate was much more used in genetic epilepsy (as first-line in 26%, as second-line in 37%) than in the other two conditions. Long-term conventional EEG monitoring was suggested as important to verify efficacy of drugs in controlling seizures by 84% of interviewed neurologists, but EEG was available around the clock in only 53% of their centers. 1 to 3-channel aEEG/EEG (commonly named CFM) was often used instead of conventional EEG monitoring.
CONCLUSION: This is the first survey looking at a targeted approach in treatment of neonatal seizures by pediatric neurologists consulted by NICUs. The treatment approach is similar to previous surveys in case of acute symptomatic seizures, but in case of other etiologies the choices are different, especially for the second-line option. Larger studies should address this topic.