Objective: To determine the efficacy of switching to subcutaneous fentanyl with or without midazolam to prevent withdrawal after prolonged sedation in children in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
Design: Retrospective review of hospital records.
Setting: Tertiary care center, PICU.
Patients: The cohort for the study included patients who had received subcutaneous fentanyl with or without midazolam to prevent withdrawal after prolonged sedation in the PICU.
Measurements and Main Results: Subcutaneous fentanyl with or without midazolam was administered to nine patients ranging in age from 3 to 7 yrs (mean, 4.4 ± 1.8 yrs) and ranging in weight from 11 to 31 kg (mean, 20.1 ± 6.8 kg). All patients required prolonged administration of fentanyl with or without midazolam during mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure. The starting infusion rate for subcutaneous fentanyl varied from 5 to 9 μg/kg/hr (mean, 7.1 ± 1.4 μg/kg/hr). Four patients also received subcutaneous midazolam at a rate of 0.15 to 0.3 mg/kg/hr (mean, 0.24 mg/kg/hr). Subcutaneous access was maintained for 3-7 days (mean, 5.7 ± 1.4 days) in the nine patients. No problems with the subcutaneous access were noted during treatment. The fentanyl infusion was decreased by 1 μg/kg/hr every 12-24 hrs and the midazolam infusion was decreased by 0.05 mg/kg/hr every 12-24 hrs. No patient demonstrated signs of symptoms of moderate to severe withdrawal.
Conclusion: The subcutaneous route provides an effective alternative to intravenous administration. It allows for gradual weaning from sedative/analgesic agents after prolonged sedation while eliminating the need to maintain intravenous access.