FMRI under sedation: what is the best choice in children?

J Clin Med Res. 2012 Dec;4(6):363-70. doi: 10.4021/jocmr1047w. Epub 2012 Nov 11.


Background: Pediatric fMRI may require sedation. The aim of this study is to compare different sedation schemes to determine which medication yields least failures and the best activation.

Methods: A total of 100 children who had fMRI performed as part of the work up for epilepsy surgery, were divided into different medication groups (Pentobarbital, Propofol, Dexmedetomidine, Sevoflurane). Comparison was performed among the groups for number of failures, rank of activation, adverse effects, anesthesia time, and recovery time. The study was approved by the IRB and followed all HIPAA guidelines. BOLD sequences were utilized to perform two block-design paradigms (auditory and visual). The activation was ranked into 5 categories according to the presence and localization of the activation. Descriptive and parametric statistics (ANOVA) were utilized to look for significant differences.

Results: Pentobarbital yielded the least amount of failures, for the auditory task, followed by propofol, while sevoflurane yielded the highest number of failures for both tasks. In the visual task, propofol administered after dexmedetomidine resulted in the least number of failures. Brain activations were not statistical different (auditory: ANOVA, P = 0.42; F = 1.01; visual: ANOVA, P = 0.077; F = 2.1). The shortest recovery time was obtained with sevoflurane, followed by propofol. Agitation and cardiac complications were seen in 28% of cases in the pentobarbital group.

Conclusion: No statistically significant difference in brain activation was found utilizing different sedative medications in children with intractable epilepsy. A trend toward less failures was obtained with pentobarbital and propofol; however pentobarbital was more frequently associated with undesirable side effects.

Keywords: Auditory mapping; Epilepsy; Visual mapping; “Functional MRI”.