Objective: This study investigated the prevalence and nature of physical and neurocognitive sequelae in pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) survivors.
Design and setting: Prospective follow-up study 3 months after discharge from a 14-bed tertiary PICU in The Netherlands.
Patients and participants: The families of 250 previously healthy children unexpectedly admitted to the PICU were invited to visit the outpatient follow-up clinic for structured medical examination of the child 3 months after discharge; 186 patients were evaluated.
Measurements and results: Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category (PCPC) and Pediatric Overall Performance Category (POPC) values were determined at PICU discharge, at the outpatient follow-up clinic, and retrospectively before admission to the PICU. We found that 69% of children had physical sequelae. In 30% of cases these were caused by a previously unknown illness and in 39% by acquired morbidity. In 8% of the children the acquired morbidity was related to complications from PICU procedures. Three months after discharge 77% of the children had normal PCPC scores and 31% had normal POPC scores.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that PICU survival may be associated with substantial physical sequelae. Structured follow-up research, preferably by multicenter studies, is warranted in PICU survivors.