Tricks of the trade: Intranasal fentanyl for pediatric patients
Pediatric patients often receive inadequate pain control in the setting of orthopedic injuries. Because the child experiences fear, anxiety, and pain with needles, practitioners often shy away from ordering IV or IM pain medications. Oral agents, while easier to administer, usually provide inadequate pain control.
Trick of the Trade
Intranasal (IN) fentanyl
Thanks to my friend Dr. Ron Dieckmann (Editor-in-Chief for PEMSoft, Chairman of Board for KidsCareEverywhere, and Pediatric Director for Valley Emergency Physicians) for his tip about intranasal fentanyl:
It is imperative that the drug be administered in a nebulized form using an atomizer device — one half the volume in each nostril. Attach a 1 cc syringe to the end of the atomizer to administer fentanyl intranasally.
It is rapidly absorbed and provides excellent analgesia within minutes. It works just as well as IV morphine (1). If you just drop the liquid in the nose without using the atomizer, the child will swallow some of the drug, and onset and effect will be blunted significantly and titration is not possible.
The starting dose of 1.5 microgram/kg can be repeated in a dose of 0.5-1.5 microgram/kg IN in 5 minutes. Be sure to use extreme caution in younger patients who are more susceptible to the respiratory depressant effects of all opiates; it has not been tested in children < 3 years of age at all, so I would not use in this age group. Put patients on a pulse oximeter. In the event that a child receives the drug and starts to desaturate, bag the patient, then just give naloxone 0.1 mg/kg/dose to a maximum of 2 mg intramuscularly, and the respiratory effects will be rapidly reversed.
1. Borland M, Jacobs I, King B, O’Brien D. A randomized controlled trial comparing intranasal fentanyl to intravenous morphine for managing acute pain in children in the emergency department. Ann Emerg Med. 2007 Mar;49(3):335-40.
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