Clinical Implications of Unmanaged Needle-Insertion Pain and Distress in Children

Robert M. Kennedy, Janet Luhmann, William T. Zempsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

238 Scopus citations


Increasing evidence has demonstrated that pain from venipuncture and intravenous cannulation is an important source of pediatric pain and has a lasting impact. Ascending sensory neural pain pathways are functioning in preterm and term infants, yet descending inhibitory pathways seem to mature postnatally. Consequently, infants may experience pain from the same stimulus more intensely than older children. In addition, painful perinatal procedures such as heel lancing or circumcision have been found to correlate with stronger negative responses to venipuncture and intramuscular vaccinations weeks to months later. Similarly, older children have reported greater pain during follow-up cancer-related procedures if the pain of the initial procedure was poorly controlled, despite improved analgesia during the subsequent procedures. Fortunately, both pharmacologic and nonphar- macologic techniques have been found to reduce children's acute pain and distress and subsequent negative behaviors during venipuncture and intravenous catheter insertion. This review summarizes the evidence for the importance of managing pediatric procedural pain and methods for reducing venous access pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S130-S133
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Developmental biology
  • Nociceptors
  • Pain
  • Peripheral cannulation
  • Psychophysiology
  • Venipuncture


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