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Middle East J Anaesthesiol. 2006 Jun;18(5):915-27.

Anesthesia-related complications in children.

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Department of Anaesthesia, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Edo State, Nigeria.



Careful preoperative assessment and adequate planning of an appropriate anesthetic are the cornerstones safe pediatric anesthetic practice. A prospective study was carried out in pediatric surgical patients to identify and quantitate both intra-operative and post anesthesia recovery room complications, management and outcome.


Two hundred and seventy children, aged day 1-16 years who had surgery over twelve months period were recruited in the study. There were 151 males (56%) and 119 females (44%). There were 15 neonates (5.5%), 69 infants below 1 year (25%), 99 (36.7%) toddlers and younger children (1-5 years); older children >5 years were 87 (32.2%). Anesthetists managing the patients were free to use drugs and technique they considered appropriate for each patient. A standardized form was used to collect patient's details, type of surgery, technique of anesthesia, duration of anesthesia and surgery. The incidence of intra-operative and post-anesthesia recovery room complications was determined.


Twenty five intraoperative complications were recorded in 14 (5.1%) patients while forty postoperative complications were recorded in 25 (9.25%) patients. The incidence of intraoperative complications was 9.3% while that of postoperative complications was 14.8%. There were no statistically significant differences. P = 0.0635, Odds ratio = 0.5867, 95% CI: 0.3449 - 0.9981. Intraoperative adverse events were mainly cardiovascular and respiratory. After cardiovascular complication, pain was the second commonest postoperative complication observed in the recovery room. Occurrence of complication was not related to ASA physical status but the outcome of management of complications was directly related to ASA status. Three preterm infants weighing 1.6 kg, 1.9 kg and 2 kg respectively were transferred to Intensive Care Unit for ventilatory support. Neonates and infants < below 12 months old had the highest rate of adverse events both intraoperatively and in the postanesthesia recovery room. There were two cases of cardiac arrest. Mortality rate was 0.34%.


Preterm infants are more prone to developing respiratory complications. Anesthesia-related morbidity and mortality can either be minimized or avoided with early identification and prompt management of any complication.

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