Propofol-based palliative sedation in terminally ill children with solid tumors: A case series

Evelina Miele, Angela Mastronuzzi, Maria Giuseppina Cefalo, Francesca Del Bufalo, Maria Debora De Pasquale, Annalisa Serra, Gian Paolo Spinelli, Luigi De Sio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RATIONALE: The palliative sedation therapy is defined as the intentional reduction of the alert state, using pharmacological tools. Propofol is a short-acting general anesthetic agent, widely used for induction and maintenance of general anesthesia and rarely employed in palliative care.

PATIENT CONCERNS AND DIAGNOSES: This case series describes 5 pediatric oncology inpatients affected by relapsed/refractory solid tumors received palliative sedation using propofol alone or in combination with opioids and benzodiazepines.

INTERVENTIONS AND OUTCOMES: Five terminally ill children affected by solid tumors received propofol-based palliative sedation. All patients were previously treated with opioids and some of them reduced the consumption of these drugs after propofol starting. In all cases the progressive increase of the level of sedation until the death has been the only effective measure of control of refractory symptoms related todisease progression and psychological suffering.

LESSONS: We evaluated the quality of propofol-based palliative sedation in a series of pediatric oncology patients with solid tumors at the end of their life. We concluded that propofol represents an effective and tolerable adjuvant drug for the management of intractable suffering and a practicable strategy for palliative sedation in pediatric oncology patients at the end of their life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e15615
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives/administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Neoplasms/complications
  • Pain/drug therapy
  • Palliative Care/methods
  • Propofol/administration & dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological/drug therapy
  • Terminal Care/methods


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