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Ocular Irrigant Alternatives in Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Saidinejad, Mohsen MD; Burns, Michele M. MD

doi: 10.1097/01.pec.0000150984.73486.c3
Original Articles

Abstract: Minimizing pain and discomfort is an important consideration in pediatric ocular decontamination. The pH of an irrigant solution plays a significant role in its tolerability, because a solution with a pH that is too low or too high may cause edema and discomfort to the conjunctiva. We reviewed several available ocular irrigation solutions with respect to their chemical composition, pH, and cost efficiency.

Currently, the irrigation solution of first choice for most ocular decontaminations in the pediatric emergency department (ED) is 0.9 % saline solution or normal saline (NS), which has a pH range between 4.5 and 6.0. Alternative ocular irrigant solutions available include Lactated Ringers solution (LR), which has a pH range between 6.2 and 7.5, buffered NS with pH adjusted to 7.4 with sodium bicarbonate, and Balanced Salt Solution Plus (BSS Plus), which has a pH of 7.4. Of these alternative solutions, all except BSS Plus are comparable in cost efficiency to NS. The use of more pH neutral solutions such as LR, NS with bicarbonate buffer, or BSS Plus may decrease ocular pain and irritation associated with copious irrigation, and may improve tolerance of ocular decontamination by a child.

Division of Emergency Medicine/Program in Medical Toxicology, Massachusetts and Rhode Island Poison Control Center, Children's Hospital, Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Mohsen Saidinejad, MD, Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Ida C Smith Bldg., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.