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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2000 Feb;16(1):18-21.

The safety of etomidate for emergency rapid sequence intubation of pediatric patients.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, University of California Davis School of Medicine, Davis and UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, 95817, USA.



To determine whether pediatric patients given etomidate for rapid sequence intubation (RSI) in the ED develop clinically important hypotension or adrenal insufficiency.


Retrospective review of 100 consecutive patients younger than age 10 years given etomidate for RSI in the ED at two academic medical centers. Data were abstracted from ED and in-patient medical records. Clinically important hypotension was defined as a decrease in systolic blood pressure (BP) measurement to below one standard deviation (SD) of mean normal for age. Clinically important adrenal insufficiency was defined as the need for exogenous corticosteroid replacement for suspected adrenal insufficiency at any time during hospitalization.


BP measurements before and within 20 minutes after etomidate administration for RSI were recorded on 84 intubations (84%). The mean change in BP between pre-intubation and post-intubation measurements was a decrease of 1 mmHg (95% CI: -6 mm Hg to +7 mm Hg, P = 0.83). When expressed as a percentage of normal BP for age, the mean change in BP was a decrease of 1% (95% CI: -7% to +6%, P = 0.82). Four patients (4.8%; 95% CI: 1.3-11.7%) had a systolic BP decrease to below one SD of mean normal for age. Fourteen patients received corticosteroids during hospitalization, but none (0/99, 95% CI: 0-3.7%) for suspected adrenal insufficiency.


We found no evidence of clinically important adrenocorticoid suppression and a low incidence of clinically important hypotension when using etomidate for emergent pediatric RSI. Because other induction agents may also result in hypotension, prospective comparison studies are needed to further evaluate the safety of etomidate in this patient population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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