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Background: Child anxiety before general anaesthesia and surgery is common. Midazolam is a commonly used premedication to address this. Melatonin is an alternative anxiolytic, however trials evaluating its efficacy in children have delivered conflicting results. Methods: This multicentre, double-blind randomised trial was performed in 20 UK NHS Trusts. A sample size of 624 was required to declare noninferiority of melatonin. Anxious children, awaiting day case elective surgery under general anaesthesia, were randomly assigned 1:1 to midazolam or melatonin premedication (0.5 mg kg−1, maximum 20 mg) 30 min before transfer to the operating room. The primary outcome was the modified Yale Preoperative Anxiety Scale-Short Form (mYPAS-SF). Secondary outcomes included safety. Results are presented as n (%) and adjusted mean differences with 95% confidence intervals. Results: The trial was stopped prematurely (n=110; 55 per group) because of recruitment futility. Participants had a median age of 7 (6–10) yr, and 57 (52%) were female. Intention-to-treat and per-protocol modified Yale Preoperative Anxiety Scale-Short Form analyses showed adjusted mean differences of 13.1 (3.7–22.4) and 12.9 (3.1–22.6), respectively, in favour of midazolam. The upper 95% confidence interval limits exceeded the predefined margin of 4.3 in both cases, whereas the lower 95% confidence interval excluded zero, indicating that melatonin was inferior to midazolam, with a difference considered to be clinically relevant. No serious adverse events were seen in either arm. Conclusion: Melatonin was less effective than midazolam at reducing preoperative anxiety in children, although the early termination of the trial increases the likelihood of bias. Clinical trial registration: ISRCTN registry: ISRCTN18296119.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of anaesthesia

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