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Papers of the Week

2022 Jul 27

Prehosp Emerg Care

Efficacy and safety of methoxyflurane for treatment of acute traumatic pain by EMTs during alpine rescue operations: The “PainDrop” Trial.


Alexander E, Tobias H, Stefan H, Jakob F, Josef B, Helmut T, Wolfgang S, Maximilian N, Katharina T, Dominik R
Prehosp Emerg Care. 2022 Jul 27:1-12.
PMID: 35895001.


Treatment of acute traumatic pain is a core task for mountain rescue services. Intravenous access, however, is often difficult, and the vast majority of missions are carried out without a physician at the scene. The spectrum of analgesics available for use by non-physician personnel is limited. Inhaled analgesics, such as methoxyflurane, might prove useful, but currently no data exist on their application by non-physicians in the alpine setting. This prospective observational alpine field study was conducted over a period of 15 months. Patients suffering traumatic injuries with moderate to severe pain (pain score ≥5) after downhill bike accidents in the Tyrol mountains (1,362 m to 2,666 m above sea level) were enrolled. Teams of four mountain rescue service members, one of them a trained EMT, treated the patients with 3 ml of methoxyflurane by inhaler. We measured efficacy as reduction in pain from baseline to 15 minutes after treatment on a numerical rating scale. Safety was assessed by change in vital signs or occurrence of side-effects. Sample-size calculations were based on the efficacy outcome and yielded a need for 20 patients at a power of 0.8. From June 29, 2020 to September 30, 2021, a total of 20 patients (two females; mean age 37 years) were included. The mean initial pain score was 7.2 (SD 1.0) points. After 15 minutes, pain was significantly reduced by a mean of 2.9 (SD 1.4) points. No major adverse events or relevant changes in vital signs were observed. The use of methoxyflurane by EMTs during alpine rescue operations in our study proved to be safe and efficient. We observed no reduction in the efficacy of the inhaler device at moderate altitude.