Utility of antiepileptic drug monitoring in the pediatric emergency department

Eran Kozer, Dennis Scolnik, Whitty M. Agamata, Shelly K. Weiss, Zulfikaral H. Verjee, Gideon Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Convulsive disorders are common in the pediatric age group, and measurement of serum concentration of an antiepileptic drug (AED) is frequently ordered for epileptic patients in the emergency department (ED). The objective of this study was to develop a better understanding of the indications for, and consequences of, monitoring AED serum concentrations in the pediatric ED. Charts of 116 patients who visited the ED and were tested for blood levels of AED were retrospectively reviewed. Main outcome measures were number and percentage of levels outside the therapeutic range, discontinuation of an AED or introduction of a new one, dosage modifications, and admission to hospital. Two pediatricians and a pediatric neurologist aware only of patients' age, weight, diagnosis, history, clinical presentation, and drug details reviewed each case and on the basis of predetermined criteria decided whether measurement of AED was indicated. Mean age (± SD) of the study population was 7 ± 5 years (range, 2 months-17 years). Forty-two patients (36%) were on monotherapy, and 74 (64%) were on polytherapy. Sixty-eight patients (59%) presented with increased seizure frequency, 7 (6%) with status epilepticus, and 13 (11%) with suspected AED toxicity. The remainder of the children presented with problems unrelated to epilepsy. No significant difference was found between patients with AED levels within the therapeutic range and those with levels outside it in the proportion of children needing dosage change, change in medication, or hospital admission (P = 0.5, 0.8, and 0.8, respectively). None of the patients presenting with status epilepticus and only 15% of those with increased seizure activity had subtherapeutic levels. Review of the cases suggested that measuring serum AED level was not indicated in 57 (49.1%) patients. In the pediatric ED, abnormal AED levels do not correlate with clinical management. Before ordering tests, physicians should consider whether their results would alter patient treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-21
Number of pages5
JournalTherapeutic Drug Monitoring
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Children
  • Drug monitoring
  • Emergency medicine


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