Safety of procedural sedation and analgesia in children less than 2 years of age in a pediatric emergency department

Int J Emerg Med. 2008 Sep;1(3):173-7. doi: 10.1007/s12245-008-0047-x. Epub 2008 Sep 20.


Background: Although young age is considered a risk factor for adverse events related to procedural sedation and analgesia (PSA), data in very young children (<2 years of age) are lacking.

Aims: The main objective of our study is to describe PSA in children <2 years of age in an inner city tertiary care pediatric emergency department (PED).

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review from January 2005 to June 2007 of children <2 years of age who received PSA in our PED. We collected demographic variables, indication for and medications used for PSA, adverse events (AE) related to PSA, and interventions performed to treat them.

Results: Of the children who received PSA, 14.5% (180/1,235) were <2 years of age of whom 173 were included for the analysis; 73% (126/173) of the study subjects were between 1 and 2 years of age, 54.3% (94/173) were male, and 96.5% (167/173) belonged to American Society of Anesthesiologists class 1. Incision and drainage (45.0%, 78/173) and laceration repair (32.4%, 56/173) were the two most common indications for PSA. Ketamine and midazolam was the most common combination medication used for PSA (62.4%, 108/173). Sedation was deemed ineffective in 5.8% (10/173) of the children. There were only two failed sedations; 5.8% (10/173) of the children experienced AE with most being minor [oxygen desaturations 1.7% (3/173), emesis 2.3% (4/173), and others 1.2% (2/173)]. One child experienced serious AE in the form of apnea and bradycardia requiring intubation.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that children under 2 years of age can be sedated effectively without increased risk of AE in a PED.