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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2007 Oct;23(10):690-5.

Etomidate versus pentobarbital for computed tomography sedations: report from the Pediatric Sedation Research Consortium.

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Pediatric Emergency Medicine Associates, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA 30342, USA.



To compare efficacy, sedation duration, and adverse events after administration of etomidate or pentobarbital for diagnostic computed tomography (CT) scans.


A cohort of children sedated for CT scans between July 2004 and October 2005 was identified from a prospectively generated Pediatric Sedation Research Consortium database. The 24 Pediatric Sedation Research Consortium institutions prospectively record consecutive sedation data and adverse events on a Web-based tool. This study included all patients of American Society for Anesthesiologists (ASA) class I or II, between 6 months and 6 years old, sedated with etomidate or with intravenous pentobarbital with or without midazolam. Outcomes included sedation efficacy, duration (time from drug administration until cessation of monitoring), and complication rate.


Of 3397 pediatric sedations for CT scans, 2587 met age and ASA criteria. Etomidate was administered by pediatric emergency physicians as the sole sedative for 446 sedation service cases; pentobarbital with or without midazolam was used in 396 sedations by a variety of providers. Sedation was "not ideal" for 11 pentobarbital sedations and 1 etomidate sedation. Median etomidate dose was 0.33 mg/kg (intraquartile rank, 0.30-0.44 mg/kg); median pentobarbital dose was 4 mg/kg (intraquartile rank, 3.2-4.8 mg/kg). Mean etomidate sedation (34 minutes; 95% confidence interval [CI], 32-36 minutes) was shorter than pentobarbital (144 minutes; 95% CI, 139-150 minutes). Etomidate patients were younger (24 vs. 29 months), whereas pentobarbital patients were more often of ASA class II (52% vs. 34%), both P < 0.001. Adverse events were more common with pentobarbital (4.5% vs. 0.9%; relative risk, 3.38%; 95% CI, 1.28%-9.45%). One etomidate and 2 pentobarbital patients experienced apnea.


Etomidate as given by emergency physicians was more effective and efficient than pentobarbital, with rare adverse events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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