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    Oral Sedation for Cataract Surgery

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    Although intravenous sedation quells the perioperative anxiety of cataract surgery patients, its use requires preoperative fasting, placement of an IV line, and costly monitoring by an anesthesia provider in an operating room setting. Could patients instead be calmed effectively with oral sedation, which is more convenient and less costly?

    A study by a team of Boston University ophthalmol­ogists found similar levels of satisfaction with both IV and oral sedation among patients undergoing cataract surgery—and the same was true for the surgeons who performed the procedures.1

    Study specifics. For this prospective masked study, 85 patients were randomized to either oral triazolam (n = 42) or IV midazolam (n = 43). All participants—the patients, their surgeons (n = 11), and anesthesiology staff—completed surveys on postoperative day 1 re­garding their satisfaction level with the two approaches to sedation.

    On a scale of 1 to 6 (with 6 being the highest score), patients’ mean satisfaction score was 5.34 ± 0.63 (range, 3.75-6) for those who had received oral sedation and 5.40 ± 0.52 (range, 4-6) for those who received IV sedation (p value for noninferiority = 0.0004).

    For surgeons, the mean satisfaction score was 5.11 ± 1.11 (range, 2.83-6) for oral sedation and 5.45 ± 0.78 (range, 3.4-6) for IV sedation. For anesthesia providers, those scores were 4.97 ± 1.10 (range, 2.17-6) for oral sedation and 5.35 ± 0.78 (range, 3-6) for IV sedation.

    Complications. The only major intraoperative com­plication, a posterior capsular tear, was in the IV group. Eleven patients (12.9%), eight of whom were in the oral group, required supplemental IV anesthesia or sedation for intraoperative anxiety or discomfort.

    Next steps. The researchers are extending their study to a cohort of nearly 400 patients, and they will try to determine risk factors associated with “anxious outliers” who are unsuitable for oral-only sedation, said coau­thor Crandall E. Peeler, MD, at Boston Medical Center.

    “Where we work, in a busy urban, academic med­ical center, there’s a lot of demand for outpatient OR space,” Dr. Peeler said. “If we can show that patients are comfortable with oral sedation for cataract surgery, then maybe we could move some low-risk surgeries from an OR setting to a procedure room, thereby improving efficiency and convenience for our patients and potentially saving money for the health care sys­tem in general.”

    —Linda Roach


    1 Peeler CE et al. Ophthalmology. Published online April 16, 2019.


    Relevant financial disclosures—Dr. Peeler: None.

    For full disclosures and the disclosure key, see below.

    Full Financial Disclosures

    Dr. Holland None.

    Dr. Kuriyan Alimera Sciences: C; Allergan: C; NEI: S; Regeneron: C; Roche/Genentech: S; Second Sight: S; Valeant: C.

    Dr. Medeiros Allergan: C; Biogen: C; Carl Zeiss: C;S; Galimedix: C; Heidelberg Engineering: S; NEI: S; Ngoggle Diagnostics: P; Novartis: C; Reichert: C,S.

    Dr. Peeler None.

    Disclosure Category



    Consultant/Advisor C Consultant fee, paid advisory boards, or fees for attending a meeting.
    Employee E Employed by a commercial company.
    Speakers bureau L Lecture fees or honoraria, travel fees or reimbursements when speaking at the invitation of a commercial company.
    Equity owner O Equity ownership/stock options in publicly or privately traded firms, excluding mutual funds.
    Patents/Royalty P Patents and/or royalties for intellectual property.
    Grant support S Grant support or other financial support to the investigator from all sources, including research support from government agencies (e.g., NIH), foundations, device manufacturers, and/or pharmaceutical companies.


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