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Paediatr Drugs. 2003;5(6):373-83.

Postoperative shivering in children: a review on pharmacologic prevention and treatment.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany. peter.kranke@mail.uni-wuerzburg.de


Postoperative shivering consists of muscular tremor and rigidity. It is often associated with body heat loss, although hypothermia alone does not fully explain the occurrence of shivering. Shivering is self-limiting, never becomes chronic, and is rarely associated with major morbidity. However, it affects the comfort of the patients, and may sometimes lead to more serious complications. The efficacy of a great variety of pharmacologic interventions to prevent shivering and to treat established symptoms has been tested in randomized controlled trials. These can be gathered systematically; recommendations on prevention and treatment can then be based on the strongest evidence. Unfortunately all these trials have been performed in adults. Thus, recommendations for the control of postoperative shivering in children have to be extrapolated from adult data. In adults, a systematic review strongly suggests that simple measurements are efficacious for both prevention and treatment. For prevention, extrapolation of these adult data indicates that three children have to receive intravenous clonidine 1.5 micro g/kg during anesthesia for one not to shiver, when they would have done so had they not received clonidine. For this degree of efficacy, the expected incidence of shivering (baseline risk) has to be high (approximately 50%). For treatment, extrapolation from adult data indicates that less than two children need to receive intravenous meperidine (pethidine) 0.35 mg/kg, or clonidine 1.5 micro g/kg for one to stop shivering five minutes after drug administration, when they would not have done so had they not received one of these drugs. Since the treatment of established shivering is efficacious, simple, inexpensive, and relatively safe, and since prevention is only efficacious if the baseline risk is very high, we recommend the 'wait and see' strategy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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