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Clin Ther. 2005 Jun;27(6):844-76.

Analgesia and local anesthesia during invasive procedures in the neonate.

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Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, USA.



Preterm and full-term neonates admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit or elsewhere in the hospital are routinely subjected to invasive procedures that can cause acute pain. Despite published data on the complex behavioral, physiologic, and biochemical responses of these neonates and the detrimental short- and long-term clinical outcomes of exposure to repetitive pain, clinical use of pain-control measures in neonates undergoing invasive procedures remains sporadic and suboptimal. As part of the Newborn Drug Development Initiative, the US Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development invited a group of international experts to form the Neonatal Pain Control Group to review the therapeutic options for pain management associated with the most commonly performed invasive procedures in neonates and to identify research priorities in this area.


The goal of this article was to review and synthesize the published clinical evidence for the management of pain caused by invasive procedures in preterm and full-term neonates.


Clinical studies examining various therapies for procedural pain in neonates were identified by searches of MEDLINE (1980-2004), the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2004), the reference lists of review articles, and personal files. The search terms included specific drug names, infant-newborn, infant-preterm, and pain, using the explode function for each key word. The English-language literature was reviewed, and case reports and small case series were discarded.


The most commonly performed invasive procedures in neonates included heel lancing, venipuncture, IV or arterial cannulation, chest tube placement, tracheal intubation or suctioning, lumbar puncture, circumcision, and SC or IM injection. Various drug classes were examined critically, including opioid analgesics, sedative/hypnotic drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen, injectable and topical local anesthetics, and sucrose. Research considerations related to each drug category were identified, potential obstacles to the systematic study of these drugs were discussed, and current gaps in knowledge were enumerated to define future research needs. Discussions relating to the optimal design for and ethical constraints on the study of neonatal pain will be published separately. Well-designed clinical trials investigating currently available and new therapies for acute pain in neonates will provide the scientific framework for effective pain management in neonates undergoing invasive procedures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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