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Randomised controlled trial of thiopental for intubation in neonates
  1. A Bhutada,
  2. R Sahni,
  3. S Rastogi,
  4. J-T Wung
  1. Division of Neonatal–Perinatal Medicine, Babies and Children's Hospital of New York, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, 3959 Broadway, BHN-1201, New York, NY 10032 USA
  1. Dr Jen-Tien Wung


AIMS To determine the effects of premedication with thiopental on heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation during semi-elective nasotracheal intubation in neonates.

METHODS A randomised, placebo controlled, non-blinded study design was used to study 30 neonates (mean birthweight 3.27 kg) requiring semi-elective nasotracheal intubation. The babies were randomly allocated to receive either 6 mg/kg of thiopental (study group) or an equivalent volume of physiological saline (control group) one minute before the start of the procedure. Six infants were intubated primarily and 24 were changed from orotracheal to a nasotracheal tube. The electrocardiogram, arterial pressure wave, and transcutaneous oxygen saturation were recorded continuously 10 minutes before, during, and 20 minutes after intubation. Minute by minute measurements of heart rate, heart rate variability, mean blood pressure (MBP) and transcutaneous oxygen saturation (SpO2) were computed. The differences for all of these between the baseline measurements and those made during and after intubation were determined. Differences in the measurements made in the study and the control groups were compared using Student's t test.

RESULTS During intubation, heart rate increased to a greater degree (12.0vs −0.5 beats per minute, p < 0.03) and MBP increased to a lesser degree (−2.9 vs4.4 mm Hg; p < 0.002) in the infants who were premedicated with thiopental. After intubation only the changes in MBP differed significantly between the two groups (−3.8vs 4.6 mm Hg; p < 0.001). There were no significant changes in the oxygen saturation between the two groups during or after intubation. The time taken for intubation was significantly shorter in the study group (p < 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS The heart rate and blood pressure of infants who are premedicated with thiopental are maintained nearer to baseline values than those of similar infants who receive no premedication. Whether this lessening of the acute drop in the heart rate and increase in blood pressure typically seen during intubation of unmedicated infants is associated with long term advantages to the infants remains to be determined.

  • heart rate
  • blood pressure
  • oxygen saturation
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