Nalmefene for elective reversal of
procedural sedation in children

Chumpa A, Kaplan RL, Burns MM, Shannon MW.
Division of Emergency Medicine,
Children's Hospital,
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
Am J Emerg Med 2001 Nov;19(7):545-548


Nalmefene is a newer, long-acting opioid antagonist. Its use in children for the elective reversal of emergency department procedures has not been investigated. The objective was to evaluate the safety of nalmefene in children. An open-label pediatric clinical trial was performed. The study was conducted at the emergency department of an urban, university-affiliated children's hospital and consisted of children aged 6 months to 12 years who required procedural sedation where an opioid agent was administered. Patients were excluded if there was altered mental status, history of head trauma, history of opioid allergy, or the anticipated need for opioid agents for pain relief after the procedure. At the completion of the procedure, nalmefene was administered in a dose of 0.25 &mgr;g/kg increments (max 10 &mgr;g) until sedation was resolved, or to a maximum of 1.0 &mgr;g/kg (max 40 &mgr;g). Serial ECGs, vital signs, and oxygen saturation were recorded. Sedation was assessed using the Clinical Global Impression Scale (CGIS) at baseline, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 minutes after the initial nalmefene dose. The observer's assessment of alertness and sedation (OAA/S) was measured at baseline, 10, 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes after the first dose of nalmefene. Episodes of resedation were recorded. All patients received follow-up by telephone at 4 and 24 hours after the initial dose of nalmefene to identify any potential late adverse effects. Over the study interval 15 patients were enrolled. Mean age was 59.1 +/- 41.5 months. Procedures involved fracture reduction (n=8), laceration repair (n = 4), abscess drainage (n = 2), and arthrocentesis (n = 1). All patients received IV fentanyl and midazolam. The mean dosage of fentanyl and midazolam was 3.21 +/- 1.03 &mgr;g/kg and 0.07 +/- 0.03 mg/kg, respectively. The mean dose of nalmefene at the time of complete response (CGIS = 1 or 2) was 0.55 +/- 0.29 &mgr;g/kg. The median number of nalmefene doses was 2. All but one patient (93%) had a complete response based on CGIS at 10 minutes after the initial dose of nalmefene was given. Nalmefene resulted in a significant improvement in CGIS (1.60 +/- 0.82 v 3.26 +/- 0.88, P =.001) and OAA/S (median score 5 v 4) when compared at baseline with 10 minutes after the initial dose of nalmefene. Nalmefene also resulted in increased diastolic blood pressure (62.6 +/- 10.5 v 55.8 +/- 10.7, P =.04) as well as improved oxygen saturation when compared at 120 minutes to baseline (99.5 +/- 0.74% v 98.5 +/- 0.4%, P =.03). There were no significant changes in pulse, systolic blood pressure, respiratory rate, and ECG. None of the patients became resedated after nalmefene was given. One patient developed nausea and vomiting within the first 2 hours after nalmefene; this resolved without intervention before discharge. No adverse events occurred in any of the patients at 4 and 24 hours postadministration. The results of this study showed that nalmefene is effective and safe for reversal of procedural sedation by opioids in children.
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