Administration of nitrous oxide to pediatric patients provides analgesia for venous cannulation

Anesthesiology. 1990 Feb;72(2):269-71. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199002000-00010.


To determine whether administration of nitrous oxide, 50% and 70%, could provide analgesia and anxiolysis during venous cannulation in pediatric patients, 165 ASA Physical Status 1 patients scheduled for elective surgery were studied. Children, 3 weeks to 18 yr of age, were randomly assigned either to receive nitrous oxide, 50% or 70% in oxygen, or 100% oxygen via mask or to a group breathing room air, for 3 min prior to and during venous cannulation. A blinded observer using a behavioral scale for rating pain in children performed assessments of behavior and pain before and following venous cannulation. Children who received 50% or 70% nitrous oxide were more likely to be relaxed, 59% and 84%, respectively, and had little evidence of pain. Of those given 100% oxygen or no mask, only 30% and 21%, respectively, were considered relaxed, and 16% and 15% had little evidence of pain during venous cannulation. Side effects were seen in 28% of the group given 70% nitrous oxide and included excitement, dysphoria, nausea, restlessness, and opisthotonic movements. Both 50% and 70% nitrous oxide in oxygen administered to pediatric patients are effective at decreasing the pain and anxiety associated with venous cannulation, but use of the latter is associated with side effects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesia*
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Catheterization, Peripheral*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Nitrous Oxide* / adverse effects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Nitrous Oxide