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Acad Emerg Med. 2006 Jun;13(6):617-22. Epub 2006 Apr 24.

A randomized, controlled trial of sucrose analgesia in infants younger than 90 days of age who require bladder catheterization in the pediatric emergency department.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0305, USA.



To determine whether an oral sucrose solution improves pain response for infants undergoing bladder catheterization in an emergency department (ED) population.


A randomized, double-blinded study comparing the analgesic effects of a sucrose solution to placebo for infants < or = 90 days of age and requiring bladder catheterization. Infants with prior bladder catheterization, previous painful procedures that day, or neurological or genital abnormalities were excluded. Infants were assigned baseline pain scores and then given 2 mL of sucrose or water 2 minutes before catheterization. Trained pediatric ED nurses rated the infants for pain, presence of cry, and time to return to baseline.


Eighty-three patients were enrolled; 40 were randomized to sucrose, and 40, to placebo. Baseline pain scores were similar within each age group. Overall, sucrose did not produce a significant analgesic effect. In subgroup analysis, infants 1-30 days of age receiving sucrose showed a smaller change in pain scores (2.9 vs. 5.3, p = 0.035), were less likely to cry with catheterization (29% vs. 72%, p = 0.008), and returned to baseline more rapidly after catheter removal (10 seconds vs. 37 seconds, p = 0.04) compared with infants who received placebo. Infants older than 30 days of age who received sucrose did not show statistically significant differences in pain scores, crying, or time to return to baseline behavior.


There was no overall treatment effect when using an oral sucrose solution before bladder catheterization in infants younger than 90 days of age. However, infants younger than or equal to 30 days of age who received sucrose had smaller increases in pain scores, less crying, and returned to baseline more rapidly than infants receiving placebo. Older infants did not show an improved pain response with oral sucrose.

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