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Anaesth Intensive Care. 2005 Oct;33(5):623-8.

The frequency of and indications for general anaesthesia in children in Western Australia 2002-2003.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children and Health Information Centre, Department of Health and Institute for Child Health Research, Perth, Western Australia.


We conducted a retrospective database search of the Hospital Morbidity Data System at the Health Department of Western Australia to determine the number of anaesthetics given to children aged 16 years or less in Western Australia over a twelve-month period. Information was also collected to assess the types of surgery for which anaesthesia was being provided, and the categories of hospital in which children were being anaesthetized. We found that 28,522 anaesthetics were given to 24,981 children, and 2,462 (9.9%) children had more than one anaesthetic. Five and a half percent of the children in Western Australia had an anaesthetic during the twelve months studied. The most common types of surgery were ear nose and throat (28% of anaesthetics), general (21%), dental/oral procedures (17%) and orthopaedic (15%). There was a bimodal distribution in the incidence of anaesthesia versus age, with peaks at 4 years and at 16 years. The most common category of hospital that children were anaesthetized in was private metropolitan (40%) followed by tertiary (38%), rural (14%) and public metropolitan (8%). One thousand, seven hundred and seven children aged less than one year were given an anaesthetic. These anaesthetics were most frequently given to children in tertiary hospitals (62%) followed by private metropolitan (30%), public metropolitan (6%) and rural hospitals (2%).

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