Sensorial saturation for neonatal analgesia

Clin J Pain. Mar-Apr 2007;23(3):219-21. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31802e3bd7.


Aim: Sensorial saturation (SS) is a procedure in which touch, massage, taste, voice, smell, and sight compete with pain, producing almost complete analgesia during heel prick in neonates. SS is an apparently complex maneuvre, but when correctly explained it is easily learnt. In the present paper, we studied its feasibility, assessing whether a long training is really needed to achieve good results.

Materials and methods: We enrolled 66 consecutive babies and divided them randomly into 3 groups which received the following forms of analgesia: glucose plus sucking (A), SS performed by nurses (B), SS performed by mothers (C). We did not use perfume on the caregivers' hands, so that babies could smell the natural scent of the hands. We assessed pain level by the ABC scale.

Results: Median scores of groups A, B, and C were: 1 (0 to 6), 0 (0 to 4), and 0 (0 to 6), respectively. Mean scores were: 0.6, 0.6, and 1.7 and standard errors were 0.38, 0.22, and 0.32, respectively. Scores of groups B and C were significantly lower than that of A (P=0.03 and 0.006, respectively). No significant difference was found between values of scores of groups B and C.

Conclusions: Even without the use of perfume on the hands, SS was effective as an analgesic maneuvre. It made no difference whether SS was performed by mothers who applied it for the first time or experienced nurses. SS is rapid to learn and any caregiver (mother, pediatrician or nurse) can effectively use it.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucose / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Sensation*
  • Sucking Behavior


  • Glucose