Intranasal fentanyl for the prehospital management of acute pain in children

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Abstract

Introduction

Acute pain is the most common symptom in the emergency setting and its optimal management continues to challenge prehospital emergency care practitioners, particularly in the paediatric population. Difficulty in establishing vascular access and fear of opiate administration to small children are recognized reasons for oligoanalgesia. Intranasal fentanyl (INF) has been shown to be as safe and effective as intravenous morphine in the treatment of severe pain in children in the Emergency Department setting.

Aim

This study aimed to describe the clinical efficacy and safety of INF when administered by advanced paramedics in the prehospital treatment of acute severe pain in children.

Methods

A 1-year prospective cross-sectional study was carried out of children (>1 year, <16 years) who received INF as part of the prehospital treatment of acute pain by the statutory national emergency medical services in Ireland.

Results

Ninety-four children were included in the final analysis [median age 11 years (interquartile range 7–13)]; 53% were males and trauma was implicated in 86% of cases. A clinically effective reduction in the pain score was found in 78 children [83% (95% confidence interval: 74–89%)]. The median initial pain rating score was 10. Pain assessment at 10 min after INF administration indicated a median pain rating of 5 (interquartile range 2–7). No patient developed an adverse event as a result of INF.

Discussion

INF at a dose of 1.5 µg/kg appears to be a safe and effective analgesic in the prehospital management of acute severe pain in children and may be an attractive alternative to both oral and intravenous opiates.

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