Narcotic sedation stabilizes arterial blood pressure fluctuations in sick premature infants.

R. F. Goldstein, J. E. Brazy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Blood pressure (BP) fluctuations in infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) are related to spontaneous respirations and have been associated with an increased incidence of intraventricular hemorrhage. Both initiation of mechanical ventilation in the nonventilated infant and muscle paralysis in the ventilated infant can help stabilize these fluctuations. We hypothesized that narcotic sedation would also be effective in decreasing BP fluctuations when pharmacologic intervention is deemed necessary. Twenty premature infants were paralyzed with pancuronium or sedated with morphine or fentanyl for clinical indications. Blood pressure and respiratory tracings before and after medication were analyzed for average peak systolic BP (SBP) and the percentage of spontaneous respirations (SResp). Fluctuations of SBP were quantitated using the coefficient of variation (CV). A marked reduction was found in both CV and SResp following administration of all three drugs. Peak inspiratory pressure and ventilator rate were increased in the pancuronium group. In 7 out of 14 patients in whom spontaneous respirations persisted following sedation, there was a strong association between the percentage of decrease in CV and SResp. Advantages of narcotic sedation over muscle paralysis are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-371
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of perinatology : official journal of the California Perinatal Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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