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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2002 May;92(5):1987-94.

Effects of OSA, inhalational anesthesia, and fentanyl on the airway and ventilation of children.

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Department of Sleep Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia.


To assess effects of anesthesia and opioids, we studied 13 children with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA, age 4.0 +/- 2.2 yr, mean +/- SD) and 24 age-matched control subjects (5.8 +/- 4.0 yr). Apnea indexes of children with OSA were 29.4 +/- 18 h-1, median 30 h-1. Under inhalational anesthetic, closing pressure at the mask was 2.2 +/- 6.9 vs. -14.7 +/- 7.8 cmH2O, OSA vs. control (P < 0.001). After intubation, spontaneous ventilation was 115.5 +/- 56.9 vs. 158.7 +/- 81.6 ml x kg-1 small middle dot min-1, OSA vs. control (P = 0.02), despite elevated PCO2 (49.3 vs. 42.1 Torr, OSA vs. control, P < 0.001). Minute ventilation fell after fentanyl (0.5 microg/kg iv), with central apnea in 6 of 13 OSA cases vs. 1 of 23 control subjects (P < 0.001). Consistent with the finding of reduced spontaneous ventilation, apnea was most likely when end-tidal CO2 exceeded 50 Torr during spontaneous breathing under anesthetic. Thus children with OSA had depressed spontaneous ventilation under anesthesia, and opioids precipitated apnea in almost 50% of children with OSA who were intubated but breathing spontaneously under inhalational anesthesia.

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