Anxiety and pain even in minor procedures are still great problems in pediatrics, not least in pediatric oncology. Conscious sedation is indicated when other means to overcome a child's fear fail. The aim of this study was to investigate whether intranasal administration of midazolam given before insertion of a needle in a subcutaneously implanted central venous port could reduce anxiety, discomfort, pain, and procedure problems.
Forty-three children with cancer participated in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in which nasal administration of midazolam spray, .2 mg/kg body weight, was compared with placebo. Children, parents, and nurses completed a visual analog scale questionnaire to evaluate efficacy.
Parents and nurses reported reduced anxiety, discomfort, and procedure problems for children in the midazolam group and would prefer the same medication at next procedure. They also reported pain reduction. Children reported reduced anxiety and procedure problems but reduction of pain and discomfort was not significant. No serious or unexpected side effects occurred. Nasal discomfort was the most common side effect (17/38≈45%) and the primary reason for dropouts (8/43≈19%).
Anxiety varied with age but not with gender. When anxiety increased, the differences between midazolam and placebo increased.
Nasal midazolam spray offers relief to children anxious about procedures, such as insertion of a needle in a subcutaneously implanted intravenous port, venous blood sampling, venous cannulation, etc. Its use, however, may be limited by nasal discomfort in some patients for whom rectal and oral routes might be alternatives.