Intranasal analgesia for acute moderate to severe pain in children – a systematic review and meta-analysis
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background Children in acute pain often receive inadequate pain relief, partly from difficulties administering injectable analgesics. A rapid-acting, intranasal (IN) analgesic may be an alternative to other parenteral routes of administration. Our review compares the efficacy, safety, and acceptability of intranasal analgesia to intravenous (IV) and intramuscular (IM) administration; and to compare different intranasal agents. Methods We searched Cochrane Library, MEDLINE/PubMed, Embase, Web of Knowledge, Clinicaltrials.gov, Controlled-trials.com/mrcr, Clinicaltrialsregister.eu, Apps.who.int/trialsearch. We also screened reference lists of included trials and relevant systematic reviews. Studies in English from any year were included. Two authors independently assessed all studies. We included randomised trials (RCTs) of children 0–16, with moderate to severe pain; comparing intranasal analgesia to intravenous or intramuscular analgesia, or to other intranasal agents. We excluded studies of procedural sedation or analgesia. We extracted study characteristics and outcome data and assessed risk of bias with the ROB 2.0-tool. We conducted meta-analysis and narrative review, evaluating the certainty of evidence using GRADE. Outcomes included pain reduction, adverse events, acceptability, rescue medication, ease of and time to administration. Results We included 12 RCTs with a total of 1163 children aged 3 to 20, most below 10 years old, with a variety of conditions. Our review shows that: - There may be little or no difference in pain relief (single dose IN vs IV fentanyl MD 4 mm, 95% CI -8 to 16 at 30 min by 100 mm VAS; multiple doses IN vs IV fentanyl MD 0, 95%CI -0.35 to 0.35 at 15 min by Hannallah score; single dose IN vs IV ketorolac MD 0.8, 95% CI -0.4 to 1.9 by Faces Pain Scale-Revised), adverse events (single dose IN vs IV fentanyl RR 3.09, 95% CI 0.34 to 28.28; multiple doses IN vs IV fentanyl RR 1.50, 95%CI 0.29 to 7.81); single dose IN vs IV ketorolac RR 0.716, 95% CI 0.23 to 2.26), or acceptability (single dose IN vs IV ketorolac RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.04) between intranasal and intravenous analgesia (low certainty evidence). - Intranasal diamorphine or fentanyl probably give similar pain relief to intramuscular morphine (narrative review), and are probably more acceptable (RR 1.60, 95% CI 1.42 to 1.81) and tolerated better (RR 0.061, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.13 for uncooperative/negative reaction) (moderate certainty); adverse events may be similar (narrative review) (low certainty). - Intranasal ketamine gives similar pain relief to intranasal fentanyl (SMD 0.05, 95% CI -0.20 to 0.29 at 30 min), while having a higher risk of light sedation (RR 1.74, 95% CI 1.30 to 2.35) and mild side effects (RR 2.16, 95% CI 1.72 to 2.71) (high certainty). Need for rescue analgesia is probably similar (RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.62 to 1.17) (moderate certainty), and acceptability may be similar (RR 1.15, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.48) (low certainty). Conclusions Our review suggests that intranasal analgesics are probably a good alternative to intramuscular analgesics in children with acute moderate to severe pain; and may be an alternative to intravenous administration. Intranasal ketamine gives similar pain relief to fentanyl, but causes more sedation, which should inform the choice of intranasal agent.