In 2014,from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded that intranasal fentanyl can be effective for the management of moderate to severe pain in children. A dose of 1.0-1.5 mcg/kg is associated with a 40-mm pain reduction in VAS at 10 minutes. “The benefits are that it is not an invasive approach, it’s been rigorously studied, and it is equivalent to IV morphine for moderate to severe pain,” said Dr. Poonai, who was not part of the Cochrane review. “It lasts about 60 minutes, with minimal side effects.”
A separate analysis found that intranasal fentanyl and ketamine were associated with similar pain reduction in children with moderate to severe pain from limb injury (). Ketamine was associated with more minor adverse events. An intranasal dose of 1 mg/kg can cause a 40- to 45-mm reduction in VAS at 30 minutes.
Dr. Poonai went on to discuss treatment options for abdominal pain, noting that fewer than two-thirds of children with suspected appendicitis receive analgesia. “If they are receiving it, it’s often not until after the ultrasound is performed,” he said. “There is a still a reluctance toward providing opioid analgesia for a child with suspected appendicitis for fear of masking a diagnosis or leading to complications.” A systematic review led by Dr. Poonai found that the use of opioids in undifferentiated acute abdominal pain in children is associated with no difference in pain scores and an increased risk of mild side effects (). However, there was no increased risk of perforation or abscess. “We found that single-dose IV opioids were actually beneficial,” he said.
Dr. Poonai characterized most of the current evidence on IV morphine for suspected appendicitis as being of low to moderate quality, “but they are generally favorable for the indication,” he said. “It is titratable to effect, and triage-initiated protocols improve timing and consistency of analgesia.” He reported having no financial disclosures.