The agitation crisis in the awakening phase after traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most difficult behavioral disorders to alleviate. Current treatment options are heterogeneous and may involve excessive sedation. Practice guidelines are required by professionals in charge of TBI patients. Few reviews were published but those are old and based on expert opinions. The purpose of this work is to propose evidence-based guidelines to treat the agitation crisis.
The elaboration of these guidelines followed the procedure validated by the French health authority for good practice recommendations, close to the Prisma statement. Guidelines were elaborated on the basis of a systematic and critical review of the literature.
Twenty-eight articles concerning 376 patients were analyzed. Recommendations are: when faced with an agitation crisis, the management strategy implies to search for an underlying factor that should be treated such as pain, acute sepsis, and drug adverse effect (expert opinion). Physical restraints should be discarded when possible (expert opinion). Neuroleptic agent with a marketing authorization can be used in order to obtain a quick sedation so as to protect the patient from himself, closed ones or the healthcare team but the duration should be as short as possible (expert opinion). The efficacy of beta-blockers and antiepileptics with mood regulation effects like carbamazepine and valproate yield the most compelling evidence and should be preferably used when a background regimen is envisioned (grade B for beta-blocker and C for antiepileptics). Neuroleptics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, buspirone may be prescribed but are considered second-line treatments (expert opinion).
This study provides a strategy for treating the agitation crisis based on scientific data and expert opinion. The level of evidence remains low and published data are often old. New studies are essential to validate results from previous studies and test new drugs and non-pharmaceutical therapies.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Traumatic brain injury, Agitation crisis, Guideline, Aggressive behaviour, Treatment strategy