A TEESSIDE hospital has become the first in the region to treat injured children with an injection the of sedative ketamine.
The drug - which is also used as a horse tranquilliser - temporarily unplugs sight, hearing and feeling, enabling injuries such as burns, dislocations, and some fractures to be treated or foreign bodies to be removed without the need for a general anaesthetic or overnight stay in hospital.
Specialist registrar Mike Davison
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Specialist registrar Mike Davison, who used the drug on badly wounded casualties while serving in Afghanistan, has introduced the technique at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.
He said: “After using this in Helmand and returning to England I was keen to see whether young patients in this country could benefit from the technique. I put the suggestion to the clinical team and was well supported by the whole trust to bring it in.”
Paul Swainson of Fishburn, Stockton, has certainly witnessed the benefit of the pioneering procedure.
Paul has seen both of his sons end up in hospital with broken wrists within months of each other.
But the boisterous boys experienced a vastly different service.
Four-year-old Jensen had to spend two nights in the children’s ward when he tripped over and broke his wrist because he had to have a general anaesthetic and an operation to correct the break.
Just weeks later Mitchell, 11, suffered a similar break when he fell out of a fun house, but he became one of the first to benefit from the new treatment method.
Paul said: “We saw Mike Davison in the accident and emergency department at the University Hospital of North Tees and he suggested ketamine for Mitchell. Just a couple of hours later he’d been treated and we were on our way home.
Paul Swainson and his boys Jensen and Mitchell
“Mitchell has no recollection apart from the jab going in and coming round after the procedure was done.
“Having seen the difference for myself it’s just brilliant. With one son it was a general anaesthetic and overnight stay, with the other we were in, sorted and out within a few hours.”
Ketamine is a drug which reduces or blocks signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain. It is a particularly useful anaesthetic for the elderly, the very young, and in emergencies as it does not suppress the respiratory system.
Vets also use it, albeit in larger doses, to treat horses and a range of other animals.
Clinical director for accident and emergency Andy Simpson said: “When we heard Mike’s idea we were keen to support it. It’s making a significant difference to the care of children in the department and makes our service unique in the region.”
Dr Davison added: “The success of this technique speaks for itself. We’re auditing our results very closely and without exception this has been a superior way of sedating injured children.
“Their parents also see the benefit.
“A 45-minute spell of sedation with about an hour’s recovery time is better for our young patients and their families than the risk of a general anaesthetic and overnight stays in hospital.”
by Marie Levy
August 5, 2009