OBJECTIVE. As the number of diagnostic imaging studies performed has increased, the demand for sedation in support of these radiologic tests has also increased. Our objectives were to (1) assess the safety and efficacy of a radiology sedation service that is staffed exclusively by pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) physicians, (2) determine the frequency and the type of commonly performed pediatric imaging studies that require procedural sedation, and (3) assess the average duration of procedural sedation for commonly performed radiologic studies.

METHODS. We conducted a retrospective observational study of patient encounters in 2004 involving procedural sedation to facilitate diagnostic imaging. We are a university-affiliated group of PEM physicians that provide a radiology sedation service during weekdays at a freestanding urban children's hospital.

RESULTS. The sedation service participated in 1285 patient encounters during the study period. Deep sedation was provided to 1027 patients. Moderate sedation was administered to 258 patients. Procedural sedation times for the most frequently performed imaging studies ranged from 5 to 183 minutes. Agents that were used to provide deep sedation were pentobarbital (with midazolam, fentanyl, or both) in 65% of cases, propofol in 31%, and ketamine (with or without midazolam) in 4%. Moderate sedation was achieved with chloral hydrate in 86% and oral diazepam in 14% of the cases. A total of 99.1% of the imaging studies were completed successfully. Six imaging studies were aborted because of failed sedation or occurrence of adverse event. Five patients who were deemed high risk on their presedation evaluation were referred electively for general anesthesia.

CONCLUSIONS. Our data suggest that a dedicated sedation team in support of diagnostic imaging services, staffed exclusively by PEM physicians, can be a successful clinical enterprise. The service consumes significant resources and physician time.

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