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Is atropine needed with ketamine sedation? A prospective, randomised, double blind study


Objective: To compare atropine with placebo as an adjunct to ketamine sedation in children undergoing minor painful procedures. Outcome measures included hypersalivation, side effect profile, parental/patient satisfaction, and procedural success rate.

Methods: Children aged between 1 and 16 years of age requiring ketamine procedural sedation in a tertiary emergency department were randomised to receive 0.01 mg/kg of atropine or placebo. All received 4 mg/kg of intramuscular ketamine. Tolerance and sedation scores were recorded throughout the procedure. Side effects were recorded from the start of sedation until discharge. Parental and patient satisfaction scores were obtained at discharge and three to five days after the procedure, with the opportunity to report side effects encountered at home.

Results: A total of 83 patients aged 13 months to 14.5 years (median age 3.4 years) were enrolled over a 16 month period. Hypersalivation occurred in 11.4% of patients given atropine compared with 30.8% given placebo (odds ratio (OR) 0.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.09 to 0.91). A transient rash was observed in 22.7% of the atropine group compared with 5.1% of the placebo group (OR 5.44, 95% CI 1.11 to 26.6). Vomiting during recovery occurred in 9.1% of atropine patients compared with 25.6% of placebo patients (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.09 to 1.02). There was a trend towards better tolerance in the placebo group. No patient experienced serious side effects.

Conclusion: Ketamine sedation was successful and well tolerated in all cases. The use of atropine as an adjunct for intramuscular ketamine sedation in children significantly reduces hypersalivation and may lower the incidence of post-procedural vomiting. Atropine is associated with a higher incidence of a transient rash. No serious adverse events were noted.

  • ketamine
  • atropine
  • child
  • sedation
  • hypersalivation

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