Neonatal procedural pain exposure and pain management in ventilated preterm infants during the first 14 days of life

Cignacco, E; Hamers, J; van Lingen, R A; Stoffel, L; Büchi, S; Müller, R; Schütz, N; Zimmermann, L; Nelle, M (2009). Neonatal procedural pain exposure and pain management in ventilated preterm infants during the first 14 days of life. Swiss medical weekly, 139(15-16), pp. 226-32. Muttenz: EMH Schweizerischer Ärzteverlag

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OBJECTIVES: Ventilated preterm infants are at high risk for procedural pain exposure. In Switzerland there is a lack of knowledge about the pain management in this highly vulnerable patient population. The aims of this study were to describe the type and frequency of procedures and to determine the amount of analgesia given to this patient group in two Swiss neonatal intensive care units. METHOD: A retrospective cohort study was performed examining procedural exposure and pain management of a convenience sample of 120 ventilated preterm infants (mean age = 29.7 weeks of gestation) during the first 14 days of life after delivery and born between May 1st 2004 and March 31st 2006. RESULTS: The total number of procedures all the infants underwent was 38,626 indicating a mean of 22.9 general procedures performed per child and day. Overall, 75.6% of these procedures are considered to be painful. The most frequently performed procedure is manipulation on the CPAP prongs. Pain measurements were performed four to seven times per day. In all, 99.2% of the infants received either non-pharmacological and/or pharmacological agents and 70.8% received orally administered glucose as pre-emptive analgesia. Morphine was the most commonly used pharmacological agent. DISCUSSION: The number of procedures ventilated preterm infants are exposed to is disconcerting. Iatrogenic pain is a serious problem, particularly in preterm infants of low gestational age. The fact that nurses assessed pain on average four to seven times daily per infant indicates a commitment to exploring a painful state in a highly vulnerable patient population. In general, pharmacological pain management and the administration of oral glucose as a non-pharmacological pain relieving intervention appear to be adequate, but there may be deficiencies, particularly for extremely low birth weight infants born <28 weeks of gestation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Paediatric Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Müller, Rebekka, Nelle, Mathias




EMH Schweizerischer Ärzteverlag




Anette van Dorland

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:13

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:22

PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 197380)

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