International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 165–176 | Cite as

The management of hypertensive emergencies in children after stem cell transplantation

  • D. G. Horn
  • M. N. Trame
  • G. HempelEmail author
Review Article


Aim of the review This work presents a short overview on the available data about drugs that are currently used to treat hypertensive emergencies in children with a focus on incidents after stem cell transplantation. It shows that the pediatric use of all hypotensive agents appears to be mainly based on personal experience of the attending physicians rather than on convincing clinical trials. Method A literature search was performed in MEDLINE, through PubMed, using the medical subject headings (MeSH) hypertensive emergencies, nifedipine, nicardipine, and children. Further articles were identified by checking cross-references of articles and books. Results Hypertensive emergencies in children after stem cell transplantation usually have a renal etiology, because of the treatment with the calcineurin inhibitors cyclosporine and tacrolimus. In these severe cases an immediate action is necessary to avoid possible appearance or exacerbation of endorgan damage. Because of their mechanism of action and a potential nephroprotective effect calcium channel blockers may be particularly suitable in cases of hypertensive emergencies. An intravenous application of nifedipine may compensate the difficulties of accurate dosing, but keeping in mind possible severe side effects and the lack of published experience its use in children is at least questionable. Nicardipine appears to be the hypotensive agent of first choice. In adults, the treatment of hypertensive emergencies with intravenous nicardipine is well-documented, but for an evaluation of safety in pediatric use, the published studies and case reports appear to be barely adequate. Conclusion The actual treatment approaches vary widely, demonstrating the lack of hard science on which current treatment of hypertensive emergencies in children is based. The hypotensive agent for the individual situation should be chosen considering the properties, side effects, the limited experiences with its use and the patient’s anamnesis.


Calcium channel blocker Children Hypertensive emergencies Stem cell transplantation Nifedipine Nicardipine 




Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical and Medical Chemistry, Clinical PharmacyUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Department of Pediatric Hematology and OncologyUniversity Children’s HospitalMünsterGermany

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