Procedural pain in neonates: The state of the art in the implementation of national guidelines in Italy

Paola Lago, Elisabetta Garetti, Giovanna Boccuzzo, Daniele Merazzi, Anna Pirelli, Luisa Pieragostini, Simone Piga, Marina Cuttini, Gina Ancora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Summary Background National and international guidelines have been published on pain control and prevention in the newborn, but data on compliance with these guidelines are lacking. Aim To document current hospital practices for analgesia at neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) 5 years after national guidelines were published in Italy. Methods A computer-based questionnaire was sent to all registered Italian level II and level III NICUs to investigate their routine pain control practices. Main outcome measures The analgesia and sedation currently used for invasive procedures as compared with best practices. Results The questionnaire was returned by 103 of the 118 NICUs (87.3%), most of which (85.4%) knew of the national guidelines on procedural pain control and prevention, and used some analgesic measures during invasive procedures. One or more nonpharmacological interventions were only used routinely by 64.1% of the NICUs for heel pricks and venipuncture, 56.0% for percutaneous insertion of central catheters, 69.7% for nasal CPAP, and 62.4% for eye tests to screen for retinopathy of prematurity. Pain medication was routinely administered at 34.3% NICUs for tracheal intubation, 46.6% for mechanical ventilation (MV), 12.9% for tracheal aspiration, 71.4% for chest tube insertion, 33.0% for lumbar puncture, and 64.0% for postoperative pain. Pain was routinely monitored at only 22.7% of the units during MV, 12.1% for nCPAP, and 21.8% postoperatively. Conclusion This survey showed that most Italian NICUs provide some form of analgesia and sedation for invasive procedures in accordance with national guidelines, but their routine adherence to best practices for pain control and monitoring is still suboptimal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-414
Number of pages8
JournalPaediatric Anaesthesia
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • analgesia
  • invasive procedures
  • newborn
  • pain
  • sedation
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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