The primary aim of this study was to determine the cardiovascular safety of topical racemic epinephrine pellets by measuring heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and mean arterial pressure in children receiving dental care under general anesthesia. The secondary aim was to assess clinical efficacy by measuring time to reach adequate hemostasis.


For this pilot study utilizing a split-mouth randomized design, 13 patients requiring prefabricated zirconia crowns on both primary maxillary first molars were recruited. Patients received continuous infusions of propofol and remifentanil with 50–70% inhaled nitrous oxide and oxygen. After randomization and tooth preparation, either saline pellets (control) or racemic epinephrine pellets (experimental) were applied directly to gingival tissue. Vital signs were recorded for 5 minutes. The procedure was repeated on the contralateral side using the alternative (control or experimental) treatment.


Topical racemic epinephrine compared to saline produced a significantly larger decrease in mean diastolic blood pressure (−11.1% vs −3.9%; P < .01) and mean arterial pressure (−8.1% vs −2.1%; P < .01), although all noted decreases in cardiovascular variables were clinically insignificant. All experimental treatment teeth achieved adequate hemostasis after 2.2 minutes. Only 5 of the 13 control treatment teeth achieved adequate hemostasis during the 5-minute observation period (1.6 vs 4.2 minutes; P = .01).


Overall, we conclude that use of topical racemic epinephrine pellets did not result in adverse cardiovascular effects and hemostasis was reached more quickly and predictably compared to saline pellets.

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