Nitrous oxide analgesia in a pediatric emergency department

Ann Emerg Med. 1989 Feb;18(2):177-81. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(89)80110-6.


Nitrous oxide (N2O) has been shown to be an effective analgesic in adult medical outpatients, yet no prospective studies of its use in the pediatric medical outpatient exist. Thirty-four children requiring laceration repair were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: 30% N2O/70% O2 or a placebo, 100% O2. Pain behavior, using the observer-scored Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Pain Scale, was assessed by double-blind techniques, before and during the laceration repair. Less pain behavior was seen in children less than 8 years old who received the N2O mixture than in those receiving the placebo. In patients 8 or more years old who received N2O, there was a significant improvement in the second evaluation as compared with those receiving only O2 during the procedure (P less than .05). There also was a smaller increase in pain behavior, from the first to the second evaluation, in those receiving N2O (P less than .05). No side effects were encountered. The authors conclude that continuous N2O inhalation is an effective and painless analgesic in children for outpatient procedures. More effective analgesia will likely occur with 40% to 50% N2O, although these concentrations remain to be studied in pediatric outpatients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Nitrous Oxide*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pediatrics
  • Prospective Studies


  • Nitrous Oxide