Effective management of procedural and postoperative pain in neonates is required to minimize acute physiological and behavioral distress and may also improve acute and long-term outcomes. Painful stimuli activate nociceptive pathways, from the periphery to the cortex, in neonates and behavioral responses form the basis for validated pain assessment tools. However, there is an increasing awareness of the need to not only reduce acute behavioral responses to pain in neonates, but also to protect the developing nervous system from persistent sensitization of pain pathways and potential damaging effects of altered neural activity on central nervous system development. Analgesic requirements are influenced by age-related changes in both pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic response, and increasing data are available to guide safe and effective dosing with opioids and paracetamol. Regional analgesic techniques provide effective perioperative analgesia, but higher complication rates in neonates emphasize the importance of monitoring and choice of the most appropriate drug and dose. There have been significant improvements in the understanding and management of neonatal pain, but additional research evidence will further reduce the need to extrapolate data from older age groups. Translation into improved clinical care will continue to depend on an integrated approach to implementation that encompasses assessment and titration against individual response, education and training, and audit and feedback.
An Pediatr (Barc). 2015 Nov 6. pii: S1695-4033(15)00381-1. doi: 10.1016/j.anpedi.2015.09.019. [Epub ahead of print]
INTRODUCTION:Clinical scales are currently the best method to assess pain in the neonate, given the impossibility of self-report in this age group. A study is designed with the aim of determining the current practices as regards the clinical assessment of pain in Spanish Neonatal Units and the factors associated with the use of clinical scales. METHODS:
A prospective longitudinal observational study was conducted. A total of 30 Units participated and 468 neonates were included. RESULTS: Only 13 Units (43.3%) had pain assessment protocols. Pain was evaluated with a scale in 78 neonates (16.7%, 95% CI; 13.1-20.1) and the mean number of pain assessments per patient and per day was 2.3 (Standard Deviation; 4.8), with a median of 0.75. Of the total number of 7,189 patient-days studied, there was at least one pain assessment in 654 (9.1%). No pain assessment was performed with a clinical scale on any patient in 20 (66.7%) Units. Among those that did, a wide variation was observed in the percentage of patients in whom pain was assessed, as well as in the scales used. The CRIES (C-Crying; R-Requires increased oxygen administration; I-Increased vital signs; E-Expression; S-Sleeplessness) scale was that used in most Units. In the multivariate analysis, only invasive mechanical ventilation was associated with receiving a pain assessment with a scale (OR 1.46, P=.042). DISCUSSION: The majority of neonates admitted into Intensive Care in Spain do not receive a pain assessment. Many units still do not routinely use clinical scales, and there is a wide variation between those that do use them. These results could serve as a basis for preparing national guidelines as regards pain in the neonate.