Sedation for peritonsillar abscess drainage in the pediatric emergency department

Jan D. Luhmann, Robert M. Kennedy, John D. McAllister, David M. Jaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the use of intravenous (IV) sedation in children during peritonsillar abscess (PTA) incision and drainage in the emergency department (ED). Design: Retrospective review of medical records of children with a diagnosis of PTA. Setting: The ED of a large, urban, academic children's hospital. Patients: Consecutive patients 18 years or younger presenting from April 1995 to November 1998. Methods: Information was retrieved from a time-based sedation record that included age, sex, ASA classification, time since last liquid or solid, agent and dose, level of sedation (A=alert, V=response to voice, P=purposeful response to pain, U=unresponsive), vital signs, complications, recovery time, and disposition. Results: Forty-two patients had incision and drainage performed with IV sedation in the ED. Mean age was 11.3 ± 4.3 years (range 4-18 years); 57% were African-American, and 64% were female. Agents used included ketamine plus midazolam (K/M) (n = 36, 86%), morphine plus midazolam (n = 3, 7%), meperidine plus midazolam (n = 2, 5%), and nitrous oxide plus midazolam (n = 1, 2%). No cardiorespiratory complications, including laryngospasm, occurred. Vomiting occurred in 1 patient who received meperidine and midazolam. The deepest level of sedation reached included: 12% A, 64% V, and 24% P. No patient who had an abscess drained in the ED with IV sedation was admitted, and mean recovery time was 81.0 ± 30.1 minutes. Conclusions: IV sedation in children for incision and drainage of PTA by skilled personnel in the ED may eliminate the need for admission and surgical drainage in the operating room. K/M was used most frequently, without adverse effect, and all patients were discharged from the ED. Because K/M may result in deep sedation, appropriate personnel and equipment must be present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 7 2002


  • Peritonsillar abscess
  • Sedation

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