The highly regulated administration of MEOPA may suggest that there is a minimum age for its use.
In fact, there is no minimum age requirement for MEOPA gas to be prescribed. Nevertheless, its administration, if it does not present any risk, may be less effective on children under the age of 3.
What are the indications for MEOPA gas in children?
Before looking at the minimum age of administration of MEOPA, it is important to understand its use.
As MEOPA gas is a means of sedation, its use is indicated in the management of pain in adults and children.
Its anxiolytic properties make it particularly interesting for reducing anxiety and improving cooperation, especially in young people.
The indications of MEOPA are numerous:
- Performing short term painful procedures,
- Lumbar punctures,
- Venous punctures,
- Dressings for small burns,
- Dental care,
Dental appointments often generate a feeling of fear or anxiety, especially in young children. Stress can change a child's behavior, which can affect the success of the treatment.
MEOPA gas, based on the principle of conscious sedation, preserves the child's state of alertness while reducing physiological or psychological reactions to a stressful situation.
MEOPA: minimum age and administration procedures
At what age can MEOPA gas be administered to a child?
Before the age of 3 years, the effectiveness of the gas is less. This is due to a lower minimum alveolar concentration than in older children.
The so-called Minimum Alveolar Concentration (MAC) is the concentration of anesthetic gas in the pulmonary alveoli. The lower the gas concentration, the less effect it will have.
Before the child is 3 years old, the administration is possible but requires a trained practitioner to ensure a better success rate.
Modalities of administration of MEOPA in children
No coercion should be used to administer MEOPA gas to the child. The goal is to get the child to accept the mask. Coercion will only cause the child to become agitated, and MEOPA will not help.
The presence of the parents can sometimes help to reassure the child during the entire inhalation, which lasts 3 minutes.
Preparing the child for MEOPA administration
This is a crucial step, especially for younger children who can be quickly impressed by the mask and therefore need to be reassured.
The parents and the practitioner should talk with the child and explain the procedure, as well as the effects experienced, as simply as possible.
During the administration of the gas (which consists of an equimolar mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen), it is advisable to distract the child by continuing to talk to him, for example.
The dentist can, for his part, administer an anxiolytic to reinforce the effects of MEOPA.
In general, the administration of MEOPA gas to children therefore requires more preparation.
Nevertheless, if for an optimal efficiency, we prefer to administer MEOPA after the minimum age of 3 or 4 years, before this age the gas does not present any contraindications.
Administration before the age of 3 or 4 should, however, be performed by a practitioner familiar with the procedure to ensure success.