Prevention of awakening signs after rapid-sequence intubation: a randomized study

Am J Emerg Med. 2007 Jun;25(5):529-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2006.09.016.


Background: This study aimed to establish the incidence of signs of inadequate sedation after rapid-sequence intubation (RSI) and to determine whether a supplementary bolus of induction agent decreases these signs.

Methods: A randomized, double-blind trial design was used. Patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatments: RSI plus etomidate bolus followed by continuous sedative infusion (ETO group) or RSI plus placebo followed by continuous sedative infusion (placebo group). The primary outcome measure was a composite sedation score measured 6 minutes after induction. The components of the score were the Ramsay sedation score, the presence of cough or pulling at endotracheal (ET) tube, jaw relaxation, motor activity, and eye opening. The total score (0-10) was the sum of the 5 components.

Results: There were 21 patients in the ETO group and 20 patients in the placebo group. The percentage of patients presenting with at least 1 sign of awareness was 43% in the ETO group and 65% in the placebo group (P = .16) 6 minutes after induction. The sedation score was significantly higher at 6 minutes in the placebo group compared with the ETO group (2.4 +/- 2.9 vs 0.9 +/- 1.4; P < .05). The use of additional sedative drugs during the observation period was 43% (9/21) in the ETO group compared with 55% (11/20) in the placebo group (P = .44).

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that some patients have signs of inadequate sedation after RSI. These signs may be partially prevented by a supplementary dose of an induction agent but other supplementary sedation seems necessary.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Conscious Sedation / methods*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Etomidate / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Wakefulness*


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Etomidate