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PANS/PANDAS Treatment Guidelines: Mild Case

PANS/PANDAS TREATMENT GUIDELINES: MILD CASE
Mild: Symptoms are significant and cause disruptions at home and/or school. They occupy a few hours a day.

The PANDAS Physicians Network (PPN) flowcharts for diagnosis and treatment will help clinicians evaluate their patients and determine the best course of treatment. Guidelines and workflows were approved by practitioners of the PANDAS Physicians Network Scientific Advisory Board. More detailed resources are available at www.pandasppn.org. Diagnosing and treating should be done by a licensed healthcare provider.

Primary care providers play important, ongoing roles in the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery of children with PANS/PANDAS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric SyndromePediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections). Children with a moderate or severe/life threatening onset or a complex presentation may require treatment by an experienced multi-disciplinary team of specialists or a PANS/PANDAS specialist. Additional resources can be found at www.pandasppn.org/practitioners.

Quick references:

INITIAL EVALUATION AND TREATMENT

  1. Perform a comprehensive laboratory and clinical evaluation.
  2. Look for infections (Throat swab/culture child and family members for strep, check for exposure to Group A Streptococcus through close contacts, inquire about perianal redness or itching which may indicate perianal strep, and check for mycoplasma or other infections, e.g., yeast).
  3. While waiting for lab results:
    1. Prescribe 14 days of antibiotics (Penicillin/amoxicillin,¹ azithromycin, cefdinir, Augmentin, or others).
    2. Consider a 5-7 day course of NSAIDs at immunomodulatory dose for 24 hour coverage.² (see resource page)
    3. Ensure the family has access to CBT/ERP (Cognitive Behavior Therapy/Exposure and Response Prevention) and parent support.
  4. Schedule a follow up appointment.

FIRST FOLLOW-UP ASSESSMENT

  • If significant improvement:
    1. No further intervention is needed at this time.
    2. Schedule a follow-up appointment within 30 days (or earlier if symptoms return).
  • If no improvement:
    1. Look again for infection (i.e., swab/culture child and family members, check for mycoplasma or other infections).
    2. Check for sinusitis and consider a perianal strep swab.
    3. Consider changing antibiotic (change to azithromycin, cefdinir, or Augmentin).
    4. Consider a 5 day prednisone burst³ or extend course of immunomodulatory dose of a NSAID.² (see resource page)
    5. Ensure the family has access to CBT/ERP. If the child is not able to engage in CBT/ERP due to the severity of symptoms, learning parent management techniques may be beneficial for the family.
    6. Consider a referral with a psychiatrist to help with symptom management.
    7. Schedule a follow-up appointment.

SECOND FOLLOW-UP ASSESSMENT

  • If there was significant improvement between visits, but active symptoms:
    1. Recheck for active infection and exposure from siblings, parents, and close contacts.
    2. Restart antibiotics for 14 days and schedule a follow up appointment.
    3. If child has 2+ recurrences, consider prophylactic antibiotics¹. (see resource page)
  • If no improvement:
    1. Consider a 5 day prednisone burst³ or extend course of immunomodulatory dose of a NSAID.² (see resource page)
    2. Determine if symptoms have worsened to the point of being moderate or severe/life threatening.
    3. Ensure the family has access to CBT/ERP. If the child is not able to engage in CBT/ERP due to the severity of symptoms, learning parent management techniques may be beneficial for the family.
    4. Consider a referral with a psychiatrist to help with symptom management.
    5. Re-evaluate for possible alternative diagnosis.

PANS: Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome
PANDAS: Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections
CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
ERP: Exposure Response Prevention
IVIG: Intravenous immunoglobulin
NSAID: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
PEX: Plasmapheresis / Plasma Exchange

Resources

Reference: Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychopharmacology. Sept 2017. 27(7) pandasppn.org/jcap2017

¹ Bacteriologic and clinical treatment failures can occur with any antibiotic (i.e., The failure rate for penicillin therapy for strep is approximately 30%.*). If your patient is prescribed a prophylactic antibiotic and experiencing a subsequent onset of neuropsychiatric symptoms, consider the possibility of breakthrough strep. *Pichichero ME et al. Penicillin failure in streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis: causes and remedies, Pediatr Infect Dis J.2000 Sep;19(9):917-23.

² NSAID dosing can be found in Clinical Management of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome: Part II—Use of Immunomodulatory Therapies, Appendix Table A1.Use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome https://doi.org/10.1089/cap.2016.0148. A Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI), such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole, or oresomeprazole, should be considered at prescribed dosages throughout the course of NSAIDs to prevent GI complications. Ensure proper hydration during the course of NSAIDs.

³ Long term corticosteroids are contraindicated for some patients. Screen for TB, Lyme, parasites, & fungi before prescribing. If patient responds to a 5 day steroid burst, this indicates an inflammatory/autoimmune process. Lack of significant improvement does not dismiss the possible correlation.

⁴ Chain JL, et al. (2020) Autoantibody Biomarkers for Basal Ganglia Encephalitis in Sydenham Chorea and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated With Streptococcal Infections. Front. Psychiatry 11:564. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00564. For testing information, visit www.moleculeralabs.com.

The diagnostic flowchart and treatment guidelines should be considered “living documents” that are open for revisions and updates as new research is published. CLICK HERE to leave comments or feedback. Thank you.

PANDAS PHYSICIANS NETWORK ©2020 | www.pandasppn.org/flowchart | Published 15 Dec 2020 | Version 1