Intranasal ketamine for acute pain management in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis


      Study objective

      To assess the efficacy and safety of intranasal analgesic-dose ketamine as compared to intranasal fentanyl for pediatric acute pain.


      A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed following the PRISMA guidelines. We searched PubMed, Embase, and Scopus databases for randomized controlled trials from inception to December 2019. We conducted meta-analysis with random-effects models to evaluate pain reduction, rescue analgesia, adverse events and sedation between intranasal ketamine and intranasal fentanyl. Random-effects models were used to estimate weighted mean differences (WMD) and pooled relative risks (RR).


      A total of 546 studies were screened and 4 trials were included. In the meta-analysis of 4 studies including 276 patients, ketamine had similar reductions in pain scores from baseline to all post-intervention times (10 to 15 min: WMD -1.42, 95% CI -9.95 to 7.10; 30 min: WMD 0.40, 95% CI -6.29 to 7.10; 60 min: WMD -0.64, 95% CI -6.76 to 5.47). Ketamine was associated with similar rates of rescue analgesia (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.44 to 1.25). Ketamine had a higher risk of non-serious adverse events (RR 2.00, 95% CI 1.43 to 2.79), and no patients receiving ketamine had a serious adverse event. There was one serious adverse event (hypotension) with fentanyl that self-resolved. No patients receiving either IN fentanyl or ketamine had significant sedation.


      Intranasal analgesic-dose ketamine may be considered as an alternative to opioids for acute pain management in children. Its accepted use will depend on the tolerability of non-serious adverse events and the desire to avoid opioids.
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