Propofol and fentanyl sedation for laser treatment of retinopathy of prematurity to avoid intubation

Fiammetta Piersigilli, Alessandra Di Pede, Gino Catena, Simona Lozzi, Cinzia Auriti, Iliana Bersani, Irma Capolupo, Anna Lipreri, Vincenzo Di Ciommo, Andrea Dotta, Stefania Sgrò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Despite the optimization of neonatal assistance, severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP, stage III-IV) remains a common condition among preterm infants. Laser photocoagulation usually requires general anesthesia and intubation, but extubation can be difficult and these infants often affected by chronic lung disease. We retrospectively evaluated the clinical charts of 13 neonates that were sedated with propofol in association with fentanyl for the laser treatment of ROP. This protocol was introduced in our unit to avoid intubation and minimize side effects of anesthesia and ventilation.

METHODS: Propofol 5% followed by a bolus of fentanyl was administered as sedation during laser therapy to 13 preterm infants, affected by ROP stage III-IV. Propofol was initially infused as a slow bolus of 2-4 mg/kg and then continuously during the entire procedure, at 4 mg/kg/hour, increasing the dosage to 6 mg/kg/hour if sedation was not achieved. A laryngeal mask was placed and patients were ventilated with a flow-inflating resuscitation bag.

RESULTS: Thirteen neonates were treated allowing to perform surgery without intubation. Only 4/13 (30.8%) of infants required minimal respiratory support during and/or after surgery. Heart rate after the intervention was higher than that at the beginning while remaining in the range of normal values. Blood pressures before, during and after surgery were similar. No episodes of bradycardia nor hypotension were recorded. Laser treatment was always successful.

CONCLUSION: The good level of anesthesia and analgesia achieved sustains the efficacy of sedation with propofol during laser photocoagulation to avoid intubation and mechanical ventilation during and after the procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-521
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Anesthesia, General/methods
  • Female
  • Fentanyl/therapeutic use
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Laser Therapy/methods
  • Male
  • Propofol/therapeutic use
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity/surgery
  • Retrospective Studies


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