The 5-year survival for pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is greater than 90%. One late effect of pediatric ALL associated with numerous long-term difficulties is neurocognitive deficits. The experience at our institution, as well as conversations with oncologists at other institutions, suggests an increase in the use of sedation during lumbar punctures (LPs) for treatment of pediatric ALL. Among the most common Children’s Oncology Group (COG) ALL protocols, approximately 30 LPs are performed over 2-3 years. Studies in animals reveal that sedation drugs may harm the developing brain. Gaps in knowledge exist regarding their use in children, particularly repeated exposures. The purpose of this study is to summarize sedation practices for LPs related to the treatment of ALL at COG institutions.


Responsible Individuals (RIs) of the Cancer Control Committee of COG were invited to complete an internet-based survey about sedation practices at their institutions.


Surveys were sent to 103 RIs with a 62% response rate (N = 64). A combined 2018 new patients with ALL were seen each year (mean = 31.5, range = 3-110) at the participating institutions. The majority (96%) of children with ALL received sedation for LPs. While there was considerable variability across institutions in the type of sedation given, the most common was propofol alone (n = 36, 56%).


A substantial number of children with ALL receive sedation for LPs; however, there is variation in the medication used. Better understanding of sedation practices in children with ALL may inform future research to investigate which methods are the safest, with an emphasis on long-term neurocognitive late effects.

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