Oral Lorazepam is not Superior to Placebo for Lowering Stress in Children Before Digestive Endoscopy: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial

  • Fella Chennou
  • Alexanne Bonneau-Fortin
  • Olivia Portolese
  • Lina Belmesk
  • Mélissa Jean-Pierre
  • Geneviève Côté
  • Martha H. Dirks
  • Prévost JantchouEmail author
Original Research Article



Digestive endoscopies must be performed within a safe and comfortable environment. We have previously shown that the quality of intravenous sedation is influenced by preoperative stress.


Our primary objective was to compare the effects of oral lorazepam and placebo on the salivary cortisol response of children undergoing a digestive endoscopy. Secondary objectives were the assessment of procedural pain and comfort as well as the occurrence of adverse events.


Participants were randomized and received either lorazepam, placebo, or no premedication. Saliva was collected upon arrival at the hospital and 1 h following randomization. The sedation protocol included midazolam and fentanyl ± ketamine. Procedural pain was evaluated with the Nurse Assessed Patient Comfort Score (NAPCOMS). Patients completed a postoperative questionnaire. The primary outcome was defined as the proportion of children having a cortisol decrease ≥ 15 nmol/L.


101 participants (54 females) were included. The rate of children having a cortisol decrease ≥ 15 nmol/L was 27.3%, 35.3%, and 19.4% for lorazepam, placebo, and no premedication, respectively (p = 0.356). The median (IQR) NAPCOMS pain score was 3.0 (0–6) for lorazepam, 4.4 (0–6) for placebo, and 3.4 (3–4) for no premedication (p = 0.428). With lorazepam, 75.9% of children reported experiencing a comfortable procedure, compared with 41.9% taking placebo and 34.5% with no premedication (p = 0.013). Transient tachycardia was the most frequent intraoperative adverse event, particularly with lorazepam (62.5%, p = 0.029).


Oral lorazepam had no effect on patients’ preoperative stress, as measured by salivary cortisol, but was associated with a higher rate of comfortable procedures.

Clinical Trial Registration, Identifier NCT03180632.



We wish to express our thanks to all the participants of the trial and the endoscopists of the pediatric gastroenterology division at CHU Sainte-Justine (Colette Deslandres, Martha Dirks, Éric Drouin, Christophe Faure, Véronique Groleau, Kelly Grzywacz, Ugur Halac, Valérie Marchand, and Massimiliano Paganelli). We would also like to thank the research coordinator Anik Cloutier from Anne-Monique Nuyt Lab who provided assistance for the storage and the analysis of salivary cortisol samples.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This work was funded by the Fonds de la Recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQS, 30646), the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG), and the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA).

Conflict of interest

Fella Chennou, Alexanne Bonneau-Fortin, Olivia Portolese, Lina Belmesk, Melissa Jean-Pierre, Dre. Geneviève Côté, Dre. Martha H. Dirks and Dr. Prévost Jantchou have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (Research Ethics Board of CHU Sainte-Justine; 2017-1559) and with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study as well as their parents or legal guardians.

Supplementary material

40272_2019_351_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (250 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 250 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CHU Sainte-Justine Research CenterMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Department of PediatricsCHU Sainte-Justine University HospitalMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Division of Anesthesiology, Department of PediatricsCHU Sainte-Justine University HospitalMontrealCanada

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