Does Routine Midazolam Administration Prior to Nasogastric Tube Insertion in the Emergency Department Decrease Patients’ Pain? (A Pilot Study)

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Patients report pain and discomfort with nasogastric tube (NGT) intubation. We tested the hypothesis that premedication with midazolam alleviates pain during NGT placement in the emergency department (ED) by > 13 on a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS).


We performed a double-blind randomized controlled pilot study, assigning ED patients requiring NGT placement to midazolam or placebo. All patients received intranasal cophenylcaine; additionally, they received an intravenous (IV) dose of the study drug, either 2 mg of IV midazolam or saline control. Nurses placed NGTs while observed by research staff, who then interviewed subjects to determine the primary outcome of pain using a VAS. Additional data collected from patients and their nurses included discomfort during the procedure, difficulty of tube insertion, and complications.


We enrolled 23 eligible patients and obtained complete data in all: 10 midazolam and 13 controls. We found a significant reduction in mean pain VAS score of −31 (95% confidence interval = −53 to −9 mm) with 2 mg of midazolam (mean ± SD = 52 ± 30 mm), compared to placebo (mean ± SD = 21 ± 18 mm), more than double the effect size considered clinically relevant. Treatment did not impact ease of placement and there were no serious adverse effects.


Premedication with 2 mg of IV midazolam reduces pain of NGT insertion in ED patients without the need for full procedural sedation.

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