• stroke is relatively rare in children but can lead to significant morbidity/mortality
  • acute management strategies are extrapolated from adult studies, but with some specific considerations

Specifics of stroke in pediatric population

  • stroke is relatively rare in childhood – the incidence is reported in the wide range of 1.2-13/100 000 children < 18 years (both ischemia and hemorrhage)
    • the highest risk is in newborns – incidence up to 25/100.000 births [Panagopoulos,2021]
    • ischemic stroke accounts for only 55% of all strokes (compared to 80% in the adult age)
  • in adulthood, occlusion of a major artery is associated with significant morbidity and increased mortality; better brain plasticity may mitigate the stroke impact in children
  • still, stroke in children often leads to substantial motor and/or neurocognitive impairment (up to 60%), which is then dealt with for multiple decades [Kinney, 2018]   [DaVeber, 2000]
  • the mortality rate of pediatric stroke is lower than that of adults (approximately 3-6%); nonetheless, stroke is among the top 10 causes of death in children  [Panagopoulos,2021]
  • the diagnosis of stroke is often delayed in children compared the adults
    • strokes are relatively rare in childhood, so they are not thought of as much
    • pediatric stroke may have an atypical course reminding other diagnoses (stroke mimics)
    • absence of a stroke protocol in pediatric emergencies
  • late diagnosis may delay or hinder the initiation of recanalization therapy
  • cardioembolism, dissection, or other focal vasculopathies and hematological disorders predominate at a younger age
  • in approx. 50% of strokes, the exact etiology is not detected (cryptogenic stroke)

→ see Pediatric stroke etiology

  • the incidence of stroke mimics is relatively high in children (up to 44% according to the TIPS trial, over 70% according to other sources) [DeLaroche, 2017]]
    • Todd’s hemiparesis after a seizure
    • migraine
    • functional disorders (up to 20%!)  [DeLaroche, 2017]
    • methotrexate toxicity
    • PRES
    • demyelinating diseases
  • therefore, clear evidence of ischemic etiology is required for the indication of recanalization therapy (it is optimal to see a lesion on DWI + occlusion on MRA)
  • MRI is the optimal imaging method
    • it detects early ischemia on DWI + occlusion on MRA, may help to exclude some stroke mimics
    • rapid stroke protocol can be performed in 15-20 minutes (DWI/ADC, FLAIR or T2, GRE/SWI, MRA extra- and intracranial)
    • MR perfusion may be added
  • CT of the brain
    • optimally perform NCCT+CTA (+CTP)
    • CTA is excellent in assessing occlusion and collateral circulation
    • disadvantages of CT: poor detection of early ischemia, radiation burden, contrast agent toxicity
  • relevance of CTP in children is unclear
    • adult cut-off values may not be valid in the pediatric population (especially in young children)
    • currently, there are no strict rules for the indication of procedures beyond the 4.5 (IVT) or 6 h (MT) window
  • there is a lack of randomized data regarding the safety and efficacy of recanalization methods in children; retrospective cohorts conclude the safety and feasibility of IVT and MT in the pediatric population
  • consider risk-benefit; high-risk procedures are probably less justified in children than in adults (although lower rates of sICH were reported for both IVT and MT compared to adults)  [Sporns, 2020]
  • consider the specific causes of pediatric stroke (e.g., focal cerebral arteriopathy)
  • a network of pediatric stroke centers should provide pediatric stroke care
  • follow locally approved protocols that consider the specific causes of a stroke at a young age and the possibility of stroke mimics (confirmation of stroke by imaging is essential)
  • the legal aspects of providing care to minors should also be taken into account

Intravenous thrombolysis

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Mechanical recanalization

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