Brief unconscious sedation for painful pediatric oncology procedures. Intravenous methohexital with appropriate monitoring is safe and effective

Am J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 1993 Nov;15(4):370-6.


Purpose: We report here our experience in using intravenous methohexital (MHX), an ultrashort-acting barbiturate, for brief unconscious sedation of pediatric oncology outpatients undergoing painful, invasive procedures.

Methods: Following published monitoring guidelines for deep pediatric sedation, 1.0 mg/kg MHX was administered immediately before the procedure, 1% xylocaine was given locally, and MHX was additionally titrated to maintain minimal response to pain during the procedure. Clinical data reported here were gathered retrospectively from permanent medical records.

Results: Data reported here represent 132 evaluable consecutive procedures in 33 patients ranging in age from 1.6 to 20.5 years. Patients underwent an average of 4 +/- 3 procedures and received a mean total MHX dose per procedure of 5.8 +/- 2.1 mg/kg. The mean length of time from start of sedation to full arousability was 30 +/- 12 min. Twenty-three (17.4%) procedures were associated with clinically insignificant decreases in diastolic blood pressure or heart rate below resting normal ranges for age. Eight (6.1%) procedures in six patients were associated with minor complications requiring no intervention, such as transient behavioral changes, transient myoclonus, and minimal stridor. Five procedures (3.8%) in five patients required simple suctioning to manage secretions. Only two procedures (1.5%) in two patients required brief bag-mask ventilation plus suctioning for suspected laryngospasm. None required intubation. No differences in clinical features or MHX doses were noted for patients with, as compared to those without, complications. All procedures were completed with a satisfactory level of sedation.

Conclusions: Our experience indicates that MHX, with appropriate monitoring as described here, is a safe and effective agent for use in pediatric oncology outpatient sedation programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, General*
  • Biopsy*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute
  • Male
  • Methohexital / administration & dosage
  • Methohexital / therapeutic use*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin / pathology
  • Spinal Puncture*
  • Suction*


  • Methohexital