Is propofol a safe alternative to pentobarbital for sedation during pediatric diagnostic CT?

Steven E Zgleszewski, David Zurakowski, Paulette J Fontaine, Margaret D'Angelo, Keira P Mason
Radiology 2008, 247 (2): 528-34

PURPOSE: To prospectively compare the incidence of adverse respiratory events, the need for airway interventions, and the recovery time after propofol sedation with similar data from a retrospective review of data obtained in patients who underwent pentobarbital sedation.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This HIPAA-compliant study was conducted with institutional review board approval and parental informed consent. The hospital sedation committee approved a 2-month pilot program of propofol sedation as a potential alternative to pentobarbital sedation. Parents were given the choice of having their child sedated with intravenously administered propofol or pentobarbital. Fifty-two patients (18 female, 34 male; mean age, 2.9 years +/- 2.4 [standard deviation]) received propofol. An equal number of patients (21 female, 31 male; mean age, 2.5 years +/- 1.7) who previously received pentobarbital were included. The sample sizes provided 80% power to detect differences in airway manipulations, adverse respiratory events, and recovery time between the groups by using the Fisher exact test and the Student t test. A two-tailed P value of less than .05 indicated a significant difference.

RESULTS: Patients sedated with propofol underwent significantly more airway manipulations to relieve obstruction than did patients sedated with pentobarbital (23% vs 0%, P < .001). More adverse respiratory events occurred in the propofol group than in the pentobarbital group (12% vs 0%, P = .03). Patients in the propofol group had a faster recovery profile than did patients in the pentobarbital group (34 minutes +/- 17 vs 100 minutes +/- 30, P < .001).

CONCLUSION: Propofol is associated with a significantly greater incidence of adverse respiratory events than is pentobarbital.


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