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Lancet. 1999 May 15;353(9165):1667-71.

Development of a nurse-led sedation service for paediatric magnetic resonance imaging.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesia, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, London, UK.



Children generally lie still enough for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) only if they are asleep, either under sedation, which is deeper than conscious sedation, or under anaesthesia. Anaesthesia resources, however, are limited, and non-anaesthetists must use sedation frequently. Demand for MRI has increased and the failure of our sedation regimen led to an impractical demand for anaesthesia and unacceptable waiting times for scanning. We have therefore developed a nurse-led sedation service in a designated unit next to the scanner. This study assessed the safety and efficacy of this approach.


Children who required MRI were sedated in the unit by designated sedationist nurses, who used an oral drug regimen (according to weight and age from conception: weight <5 kg, 50 mg/kg chloral hydrate; 5-10 kg, 100 mg/kg chloral hydrate; 10-20 kg, 1 mg/kg temazepam plus 0.25 mg/kg droperidol; >20 kg temazepam and droperidol as directed by radiologist, maximum doses 20 mg and 5 mg respectively). Nurses checked patients for their suitability, charted and administered the drugs according to a protocol, and monitored the children throughout the sedation. We prospectively audited failure and complications of sedation.


During the 30 month study, there were 1155 sedations. 61 (5%) were unsuccessful, and there were no adverse events relating to the airway or breathing. After scanning had finished all children, in response to gently pinching the nose, could open their mouths to maintain their airway.


This study suggests that it is possible to have a nurse-led sedation service for MRI of children that is both successful and safe.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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