Pediatric Stroke: Diagnosis and Management in the Emergency Department - Stroke EXTRA Supplement -

Pediatric Stroke: Diagnosis and Management in the Emergency Department - Stroke EXTRA Supplement
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Publication Date: December 2019 (Volume 21, Suplement 12)

No CME for this activity


Amy Buckowski, MD
Department of Emergency Medicine, Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
Director for Pre-Health Undergraduate Studies, Director of the Minor in Health Care Studies, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California; Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine (Educational Scholar), Department of Emergency Medicine, Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA

Peer Reviewers

Lauren A. Beslow, MD, MSCE, FAHA
Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Division of Child Neurology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Meghan Gilley, MD, FRCPC
Pediatric Emergency Medicine Staff, BC Children’s Hospital; Clinical Instructor, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada


Although pediatric stroke is rare, it is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children. The diagnosis of stroke is often delayed in children, which can contribute to death and disability. Management of pediatric stroke is challenging because there are few data to support the efficacy of interventions, and management is based on society guidelines and expert opinion, as well as extrapolation from adult stroke management. This issue reviews the most common causes of pediatric stroke, provides guidance for distinguishing stroke from stroke mimics, discusses the indications for laboratory studies and imaging modalities, and offers evidence-based recommendations for treatment.

Excerpt From This Issue

A 7-year-old boy is brought in by ambulance after a witnessed generalized seizure lasting 2 minutes at home. He has no history of prior seizures. Upon arrival to the ED, he appears postictal and is moving all of his extremities. His blood glucose is 110 mg/dL. His vital signs are: temperature, 36.9°C (98.5°F); heart rate, 60 beats/min; blood pressure, 110/70 mm Hg; respiratory rate, 14 breaths/min; and oxygen saturation, 98% on room air. The boy vomits while the nurse is trying to obtain IV access. Per the mother, the boy has been receiving chemotherapy for lymphoma and was complaining of a headache earlier in the day. He has no history of intrathecal chemotherapy. The mother does not think he had any head trauma recently. You know that the child needs brain imaging, but you are uncertain which imaging would be most useful…

In the next room, you see a 5-year-old boy with sickle cell disease who was brought to the ED by his father. The father states that 1 hour prior to arrival, the boy started stumbling while walking. The father says he didn’t think much of it until he noticed the child's speech was slurred. The father also says he thinks his son’s face looks different on 1 side, though you cannot appreciate facial asymmetry on examination. The boy has 3 out of 5 strength of the left arm and leg, as well as dysarthria. He is alert and denies headache or visual changes. The rest of the neurological examination seems normal. The boy’s vital signs are unremarkable except for mild elevation of blood pressure. You are concerned about a stroke and begin to think about what tests to order as well as which specialists to consult before initiating treatment...

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