Analgesia and sedation for children undergoing burn wound care

Ahmad Bayat, Ramesh Ramaiah, Sanjay M. Bhananker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Standard care of burn wounds consists of cleaning and debridement (removing devitalized tissue), followed by daily dressing changes. Children with burns undergo multiple, painful and anxiety-provoking procedures during wound care and rehabilitation. The goal of procedural sedation is safe and efficacious management of pain and emotional distress, requiring a careful and systematic approach. Achieving the best results needs understanding of the mechanisms of pain and the physiologic changes in burn patients, frequent evaluation and assessment of pain and anxiety, and administration of suitable pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies. Pharmacological therapies provide the backbone of analgesia and sedation for procedural pain management. Opioids provide excellent pain control, but they must be administered judiciously due to their side effects. Sedative drugs, such as benzodiazepines and propofol, provide excellent sedation, but they must not be used as a substitute for analgesic drugs. Ketamine is increasingly used for analgesia and sedation in children as a single agent or an adjuvant. Nonpharmacological therapies such as virtual reality, relaxation, cartoon viewing, music, massage and hypnosis are necessary components of procedural sedation and analgesia for children. These can be combined with pharmacological techniques and are used to limit the use of drugs (and hence side effects), as well as to improve patient participation and satisfaction. In this article, we review the pathophysiologic changes associated with major thermal injury in children, the options available for sedation and analgesia for wound care procedures in these children and our institutional guidelines for procedural sedation. © 2010 Expert Reviews Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1747-1759
    Number of pages12
    JournalExpert Review of Neurotherapeutics
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


    • analgesia
    • burn
    • children
    • pain
    • procedural pain
    • procedural sedation
    • virtual reality


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