The Glenn procedure may lead to the development of elevated cerebral venous pressures, which is believed to result in “Glenn headaches.” This manifests as excessive irritability, often requiring significant use of opioids and benzodiazepines. This study was designed to report our experience with the use of phenobarbital in the postoperative phase after the Glenn procedure.


We performed a retrospective chart review to compare Glenn patients before and after implementation of a sedation protocol using phenobarbital. The 2 groups were compared for demographics, surgical characteristics, and cumulative sedation usage. Correlation coefficients between the preoperative catheterization variables and sedation usage were also calculated.


Groups A (pre-phenobarbital; n = 8) and B (post-phenobarbital; n = 11) were comparable in terms of demographics, cardiac anatomy, preoperative catheterization data, and hemodynamics. Patients in Group B received a median dose of 21.8 mg/kg of phenobarbital during their ICU stay. Although there was a decreased administration of morphine equivalents (2.60 mg/kg vs 2.25 mg/kg, p = 0.38), benzodiazepine (0.1 mg/kg vs 0.074 mg/kg, p = 0.43), and dexmedetomidine (47 mcg/kg vs 37.2 mcg/kg, p = 0.53) in Group B, the differences were not statistically significant. There was also no strong correlation between preoperative hemodynamic variables and the postoperative sedation requirement, and there was no statistically significant difference in overall outcomes between the 2 groups.


While phenobarbital may have mitigated the use of opioids, benzodiazepines, and alpha-agonist agents in some postoperative Glenn patients, the overall findings for all patients were not statistically significant. Further prospective studies are needed to ascertain the role of phenobarbital in these patients.

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