To determine the efficacy and safety of intravenous (IV) labetalol in the management of hypertensive crisis in children.
A retrospective chart review of 56 consecutive children (age > 1 mo to ≤ 12 y) with hypertensive crisis admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) from July 2009 to 2019.
The proportion of children attaining the primary endpoint (target 95th percentile in > 12 to ≤ 48 h) was significantly more in the group receiving labetalol as first-line or add-on (n = 23) as compared to those not receiving labetalol (n = 33) (62% vs. 30.3%, p = 0.03). Higher proportion of neurological recovery was seen in the labetalol group (56.2% vs. 18.7%, p = 0.02). The proportion of children with hypotension before 12 h was similar in both treatment groups (13% vs. 15%, p = 0.82). The practice variations between two periods of 5 y each (2009-2013 and 2014-2019) showed significantly more use of labetalol in the latter cohort (53% for 2014-2019 vs. 25% for 2009-2013, p = 0.03).
Labetalol, when used alone or as an add-on drug, was more efficacious than IV nitroprusside/nitroglycerine in attaining the primary endpoint in children up to ≤ 12 y of age with hypertensive crisis. Labetalol was safe and associated with higher neurological recovery.