Acceptability of intravenous propofol sedation for adolescent dental care

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Propofol is an intravenous anaesthetic agent commonly utilised in general anaesthesia, however in sub-anaesthetic concentrations can be utilised to provide sedation through automated dosing of target-controlled infusion (TCI). TCI has been shown to provide accurate and stable predicted plasma and effect-site concentrations of propofol. A four-part mixed-method prospective study was undertaken to evaluate the safety and patient acceptability of intravenous propofol sedation in adolescent patients requiring dental care. There is a paucity in the literature on patient-reported outcomes and patient safety in the management of adolescent patients for dental treatment.

Demographics were recorded including age, gender, ASA Classification and Children’s Fear Survey Schedule—Dental Subscale (CFSS-DS) completed pre-operatively. Behaviour ratings of the Frankl and Houpt scales were recorded followed by post-operative questionnaire and telephone consultation. Consultation was completed following the procedure to determine patient satisfaction, memory of the procedure and any reported side effects of treatment. Qualitative thematic analysis was utilised.

55 patients were recruited for the study, of which 49 (mean age 14.67 years) completed the sedation study and were treated safely with no post-operative complications. The mean lowest oxygen saturation was 98.12% SpO2 (SD 2.6). Thematic analysis demonstrated positive patient-reported outcomes to IV sedation.

Propofol TCI sedation is an effective treatment modality for the management of dentally anxious adolescents as a safe alternative to general anaesthesia, allowing the opportunity for increased provision of treatment per visit on those patients with a high dental need. Further randomised controlled trials comparing propofol TCI to other pharmacological managements are required.


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