Intranasal drugs for analgesia and sedation in children admitted to pediatric emergency department: a narrative review

Ilaria Lazzareschi, Antonio Ruggiero, Antonio Chiaretti, Antonietta Curatola, Antonio Gatto, Valeria Pansini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acute pain is one of the most common symptoms in children admitted to the Pediatric Emergency Department (PED) and its management represents a real clinical challenge for pediatricians. Different painful procedures can be very stressful for young children and their perception of pain can be enhanced by emotional factors, such as anxiety, distress, or anger. Adequate procedural sedation reduces anxiety and emotional trauma for the patient, but it reduces also stress for operators and the time for procedures. We have reviewed the literature on this topic and the drugs covered in these papers were: midazolam, fentanyl, ketamine, and dexmedetomidine. There are several routes of administering for these drugs to provide analgesia and anxiolysis to children: oral, parenteral, or intranasal (IN). Intravenous (IV) sedation, since it involves the use of needles, can be stressful; instead, IN route is a non-invasive procedure and generally well tolerated by children and it has become increasingly widespread. Some medications can be administered by a mucosal atomizer device (MAD) or by drops. The benefits of the atomized release include less drug loss in the oropharynx, higher cerebrospinal fluid levels, better patient acceptability, and better sedative effects. IN midazolam has a sedative, anxiolytic and amnesic effect, but without analgesic properties. Fentanyl and ketamine are mainly used for pain control. Dexmedetomidine has anxiolytic and analgesic properties. In conclusion, IN analgo-sedation is a simple, rapid and painless option to treat pain and anxiety in the PED requiring brief training on the administration process and experience in sedation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)N/A-N/A
JournalAnnals of Translational Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Analgo-sedation
  • Pediatric Emergency Department (PED)
  • intranasal (IN)
  • mucosal atomizer device (MAD)


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