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Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2005 Dec;18(6):608-13.

Clonidine: an alternative to benzodiazepines for premedication in children.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesia, Intensive, and Pain Care, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, Sweden.



The aim of this review is to summarize the use of clonidine for paediatric premedication and to make a comparison with benzodiazepines. A routine clonidine premedication protocol is also presented.


In the US 50% of young children undergoing surgery receive premedication and midazolam is the most frequently used drug. The number of trials that compare midazolam with active controls are few and this premedicant is not adequately validated. Clonidine is still used as premedication in a small number of centres but the literature on paediatric use of clonidine is steadily growing. A recent review article has concluded that the use of clonidine does enhance the quality of perioperative management in infants and children and more recent publications support the use of clonidine for premedication. Its effect on the circulation is mild but routine atropine administration is recommended. Contraindications to the use of clonidine are few. Apart from a general overview on the effects of clonidine this article will also summarise the published trials that have compared clonidine with benzodiazepines for premedication in children.


Midazolam the most commonly used drug for paediatric premedication worldwide. Despite having a number of beneficial effects it is far from an ideal premedicant, especially concerning its effect on cognition/amnesia, confusion and long-term behavioural disturbances. Clonidine lacks the majority of the negative effects associated with midazolam and is associated with a number of beneficial perioperative effects. Our clinical experience of replacing midazolam with clonidine as premedicant in children, including also outpatients, has been favourable.

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