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Biol Neonate. 2001 Jul;80(1):15-8.

Sensorial saturation: an effective analgesic tool for heel-prick in preterm infants: a prospective randomized trial.

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Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproduction Medicine, University of Siena, Italy.


Pain is traumatic for preterm infants and can damage their CNS. We wanted to assess whether multisensorial stimulation can be analgesic and whether this effect is only due to oral glucose or sucking. We performed a randomized prospective study, using a validated acute pain rating scale to assess pain during heel-prick combined with five different procedures: (A) control, (B) 10% oral glucose plus sucking, (C) sensorial saturation (SS), (D) oral water, and (E) 10% oral glucose. SS is a multisensorial stimulation consisting of delicate tactile, vestibular, gustative, olfactory, auditory and visual stimuli. Controls did not receive any analgesia. We studied 85 heel-pricks (5 per baby) performed for routine blood samples in 17 preterm infants (28-35 weeks of gestational age). We applied in random order in each patient the five procedures described above and scored pain. SS and sucking plus oral glucose have the greater analgesic effect with respect to no intervention (p < 0.001). The effect of SS is statistically better than that of glucose plus sucking (p < 0.01). SS promotes interaction between nurse and infant and is a simple effective form of analgesia for the NICU.

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