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Paediatr Anaesth. 2003 Sep;13(7):561-73.

Nonopioid additives to local anaesthetics for caudal blockade in children: a systematic review.

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Department of Anesthesia, British Columbia's Children's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada.



Caudal epidural injection with local anaesthetics is a popular regional technique used in infants and children. A disadvantage of caudal blockade is the relatively short duration of postoperative analgesia. Opioids have traditionally been added to increase the duration of analgesia but have been associated with unacceptable side-effects. A number of nonopioid additives have been suggested to increase the duration of analgesia.


A systematic review was conducted to identify randomized control trials comparing the use of local anaesthetic to local anaesthetic with nonopioid additives for caudal blockade in children. The increase in duration of analgesia and side-effects were compared.


The addition of clonidine to the local anaesthetic solution produces an increase in the duration of analgesia following caudal blockade in children (pooled weighted mean difference of 145 min with 95% confidence interval of 132-157 min). Side-effects include sedation and the potential for neonatal respiratory depression. Ketamine and midazolam further increase the duration of analgesia, however, the potential for neurotoxicity remains a concern.


The evidence examined shows an increased duration of analgesia with clonidine, ketamine and midazolam. However, we are not convinced that the routine use of these adjuvants in the setting of elective outpatient surgery shows improved patient outcome. It is unclear if the potential for neurotoxicity is outweighed by clinical benefits. Further testing, including large clinical trials, is required before recommending routine use of nonopioid additives for caudal blockade in children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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