Elective medical or surgical procedures are commonplace for neonates admitted to NICU. Agents such as opioids are commonly used for achieving sedation/analgesia/anaesthesia for such procedures; however, these agents are associated with adverse effects. Propofol is used widely in paediatric and adult populations for this purpose. The efficacy and safety of the use of propofol in neonates has not been defined.
The objective is to determine the efficacy and safety of propofol treatment compared to placebo or no treatment or alternate active agents in neonates undergoing sedation or anaesthesia for procedures. To conduct subgroup analyses according to method of propofol administration (bolus or continuous infusion), type of active control agent (neuromuscular blocking agents with or without the use of sedative, analgesics or anxiolytics), type of procedure (endotracheal intubation, eye examination, other procedure), and gestational age (preterm and term).
There was no statistically significant difference in the number of infants who required multiple intubation attempts (39% in the propofol group versus 57% in the morphine‐atropine‐suxamethonium group; RR 1.40, 95% CI 0.85 to 2.29). Times required to prepare medication, to complete the procedure and for recovery to previous clinical status were shorter in the propofol group. No difference in clinically significant side effects was observed; however, the number of events was small.

Authors’ conclusions are that no practice recommendation can be made based on the available evidence regarding the use of propofol in neonates. Further research is needed on the pharmacokinetics of propofol in neonates and once a relatively safe dose is identified, randomised controlled trials assessing the safety and efficacy of propofol are needed.

Authors : Prakeshkumar S Shah, Vibhuti S Shah

Correspondence to : Department of Paediatrics and Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Rm 775A, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada


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