July 1996

Levels of Consciousness and Ventilatory Parameters in Young Children During Sedation With Oral Midazolam and Nitrous Oxide

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Drs Litman and Berkowitz), Anesthesiology (Drs Litman and Ward), and Clinical Dentistry (Dr Berkowitz), University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the Pediatric Dentistry Program, Eastman Dental Center, (Drs Litman and Berkowitz), Rochester, NY.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(7):671-675. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170320017002

Objective:  To determine the ventilatory effects and levels of consciousness achieved during sedation with the combination of oral midazolam and inhaled nitrous oxide.

Design:  Case series.

Setting:  Surgical suite.

Patients:  Twenty-two consecutive children, aged 1 to 3 years, were seen for elective, ambulatory surgery.

Interventions:  Patients were premedicated with oral midazolam hydrochloride, 0.5 mg/kg, and then breathed 4 concentrations of nitrous oxide (N2O) in oxygen (15%, 30%, 45%, and 60%) for 4 minutes at each concentration prior to induction of general anesthesia.

Main Outcome Measures:  Levels of consciousness (conscious vs deep sedation) and ventilatory parameters: respiratory rate, end-tidal carbon dioxide tension (PETCO2), and oxyhemoglobin saturation (SPO2). Upper airway obstruction was diagnosed by clinical assessment by an experienced pediatric anesthesiologist (R.S.L.) and respiratory impedance plethysmography.

Results:  During inhalation of N2O, 12 of the 20 children demonstrated a mild degree of ventilatory depression; PETCO2 values were equal to or greater than 45 mm Hg during at least 2 concentrations of N2O studied. There were no significant changes in SPO2 or PETCO2 with increasing concentrations of N2O (P>.05). Respiratory rates tended to be lower during inhalation of 15% N2O than at higher concentrations (P=.05). No child developed upper airway obstruction or hypoxemia (SPO2<92%) at any level of N2O inhalation. Sedation scores were significantly higher at 60% N2O than at all other concentrations of N2O (P<.02). At 15% N2O, 12 children were not clinically sedated, 8 children met the American Academy of Pediatrics definition of conscious sedation, and no child met the definition of deep sedation. At 30% N2O, 10 children were not clinically sedated, 9 met the definition of conscious sedation, and 1 child met the definition of deep sedation. At 45% N2O,9 children were not clinically sedated, 9 met the definition of conscious sedation, and 2 met the definition of deep sedation. At 60% N2O, 6 children were not clinically sedated, 6 met the definition of conscious sedation, 6 met the definition of deep sedation, and 1 child progressed to a deeper level of sedation in that there was no response to a painful stimulus. One child was withdrawn from the study during inhalation of 45% N2O because of emesis.

Conclusions:  The combination of oral midazolam, 0.5 mg/kg, and up to 60% inhaled N2O caused mild ventilatory depression in some children and resulted in a progression from conscious to deep sedation beginning at 30% N2O. When using this particular combination of sedatives, practitioners should monitor each child's mental status continuously and adhere to the appropriate published guidelines for the monitoring and management of such patients.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:671-675