Sedation sometimes is necessary to perform an electroencephalogram (EEG) on a child. A dramatic decline in the need to use conscious sedation in our EEG laboratory prompted this review of our sedation experience. The purpose of this review was to determine the incidence of adverse sedation effects and to determine why the need for sedation had declined.
All 513 attempts to administer sedation to children who were undergoing EEG studies during a 4-year period were reviewed retrospectively. Parameters studied included type and amount of the sedative agents, need for repeated dosing, successful completion of the EEG, and complications attributed to the sedative.
Sedation was attempted in 513 (18%) of 2855 EEGs performed during the 4-year period. Ninety-one percent of the EEGs performed with sedation were completed successfully. Chloral hydrate was the most frequently administered sedative. Complications (transient oxygen desaturation) occurred in 3 children, all of whom had recognized risk factors for airway compromise. The proportion of children who required sedation decreased from 32% to just 2% during that time period.
Sedation of children who are undergoing EEG examinations is effective and safe. Complications are infrequent. The need for sedation can be decreased greatly by adequate preparation and by creating a less-threatening, child-friendly environment in which to perform the study.