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Safety of ketorolac in neonates and infants after cardiac surgery


B.S. Moffett, Department of Pharmacy, Texas Children's Hospital, MC 2-2510, Houston TX 77030, USA (email:


Background:  Ketorolac is an injectable nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is often used as a transitional short-term analgesic to treat moderate pain and to decrease opioid use. There is a paucity of literature documenting the safety of using ketorolac in neonates and infants after cardiac surgery.

Methods:  A retrospective chart review was performed which identified all patients <6 months of age who received ketorolac after cardiac surgery. Patients’ demographic, surgical, and dosing data were collected. A Student's t-test was used to identify significant differences in renal and hematologic laboratory values at baseline and at 48 h of treatment.

Results:  A total of 53 children <6 months of age received at least one dose of ketorolac after cardiac surgery. Eleven of 53 children (21%) were <1 month of age. The blood urea nitrogen/serum creatinine (SCr) levels increased from baseline at 48 h of therapy in all infants, but stayed within normal limits. The largest increase in SCr level from baseline on any day of ketorolac therapy was 26 μmol·l−1 (0.3 mg·dl−1) which occurred in two neonates. Four patients (three infants and one neonate) had minor episodes of bleeding while being treated with ketorolac. There were no clinically significant changes in hemoglobin, hematocrit or platelet count. None of these episodes caused hemodynamic instability nor required transfusion of blood products.

Conclusions:  Ketorolac was used safely in neonates and infants who have had cardiac surgery at our institution. Ketorolac was not associated with any adverse hematologic or renal effects. Prospective investigation is warranted to further assess the safety and effectiveness of ketorolac in this patient population.