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Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2015 Oct;28(5):570-6. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000227.

Pain after surgery in children: clinical recommendations.

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Pain Research: Respiratory, Critical Care and Anaesthesia Level 4, Wellcome Trust Building, UCL Institute of Child Health, Guilford, London, UK.



This article summarizes recent data related to the safety and efficacy of postoperative analgesia in children that influence clinical practice recommendations.


Postoperative pain continues to be experienced by hospitalized children and following discharge after short stay or ambulatory surgery. Updated recommendations for post-tonsillectomy analgesia exclude codeine and suggest regular administration of paracetamol and NSAID, but evidence for the most appropriate dose and type of opioid for rescue analgesia is limited. The incidence of opioid-related respiratory depression/oversedation in hospitalized children ranges from 0.11 to 0.41%, with recent large series identifying high-risk groups and contributory factors that can be targeted to minimize the risk of serious or permanent harm. Data demonstrating feasibility and safety of regional analgesic techniques is increasing, but additional and procedure-specific evidence would improve technique selection and inform discussions of efficacy and safety with patients and families/carers. Persistent postsurgical pain is increasingly recognized following major surgery in adolescents. Evaluation of potential predictive factors in clinical studies and investigation of underlying mechanisms in laboratory studies can identify targets for both pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions.


Recommendations for postoperative pain in children continue to evolve, with data incorporated from randomized controlled trials, case series and large audits. Management of pain following surgery in children needs to not only encompass efficacy and safety in the immediate perioperative period, but also consider pain following discharge after ambulatory surgery and the potential risk of persistent postsurgical pain following major surgery.

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