Study objective: To investigate the time of administration and concentration of inhaled nitrous oxide (N(2)O) needed to reduce the pain associated with intravenous (i.v.) cannulation in children.
Design: Prospective, randomized study.
Setting: Operating room of a children's hospital.
Patients: 73 ASA physical status I and II children, aged 6-15 years, scheduled for elective day or non-day surgery.
Interventions: Children were randomly allocated to one of 4 groups prior to i.v. insertion of a 24-gauge catheter in the dorsum of the hand: Group 1 (n = 18): 50% N(2)O in O(2) for three minutes; Group 2 (n = 18): 50% N(2)O in O(2) for 5 minutes; Group 3 (n = 18): 70% N(2)O in O(2) for three minutes; or Group 4 (n = 19): 70% N(2)O in O(2) for 5 minutes.
Measurements: Just after the venous cannulation, degree of pain was assessed by examining the faces of the patient by the parent and an operating room nurse.
Main results: Pain scores obtained from parents of children in Groups 3 and 4 were significantly lower than from those in Groups 1 and 2. Pain scores from the nurse in Group 3 was significantly lower than those in Group 1. However, there was no significant difference in pain score between Group 3 and Group 4. Frequency of side effects was similar among the 4 groups.
Conclusions: Seventy percent N(2)O in O(2) given for three minutes was effective for reducing venipuncture pain in children.