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Anesthesiology. 1991 Jul;75(1):27-31.

Anemia in pediatric day-surgery patients: prevalence and detection.

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


A prospective study was conducted to determine the prevalence of anemia in pediatric day-surgery patients, and a single-blinded study was conducted to evaluate the anesthesiologist's capability to detect preoperative anemia clinically. The subsequent management of children with anemia was noted. During the preoperative examination the anesthesiologist completed a questionnaire and predicted the preoperative hemoglobin concentration based on the history and physical examination. The preoperative hemoglobin concentration was measured for all of the patients, but the results were withheld until after completion of the questionnaire. Documentation was complete in 2,649 patients, and these comprised the final study group. Fourteen patients (0.5%) were anemic (hemoglobin concentration less than 100 g/l), but of these, only 5 had been predicted to be anemic based on clinical examination. Seven of these 14 anemic patients were less than 1 yr of age. Only 2 of the anemic patients had surgery postponed, and 1 of these also had a respiratory infection. Forty-four patients were incorrectly predicted to be anemic (i.e., their actual hemoglobin concentration was greater than 100 g/l). We conclude that in our patients, anemia is rare but is more likely to occur in those less than 1 yr of age. The presence of mild degrees of anemia does not alter the decision to proceed with day surgery. The anesthesiologists participating in this study could not reliably detect anemia clinically.

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