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Clin Perinatol. 2013 Sep;40(3):457-69. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2013.05.001. Epub 2013 Jul 3.

Assessment of pain in the neonate.

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Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Accurate pain assessment in preterm and term neonates in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is of vital importance because of the high prevalence of painful experiences in this population, including both daily procedural pain and postoperative pain. Over 40 tools have been developed to assess pain in neonates, and each NICU should choose a limited number of pain assessment tools for different populations and contexts. Only two pain assessment tools have a metric adjustment to account for differences of pain assessment in prematurity. Preterm neonates do not display behavior and physiologic indicators of pain as reliably and specifically as full term infants, and preterm infants are vulnerable to long term sequelae of painful experiences. "Brain-oriented" approaches for more objective measurement of pain in neonates may become available in the future. In the meantime, neonatal pain assessment tools need to be taught, implemented, and their ongoing use optimized to form a consistent, reproducible basis for the safe and effective treatment of neonatal pain.


Assessment; Neonate; Pain; Pain scales

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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