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Keywords:

  • sevoflurane;
  • halothane;
  • emergence agitation;
  • emergence delirium

This study was designed to compare the emergence characteristics of sevoflurane with halothane anaesthesia in paediatric patients having no surgical intervention. We randomized 32 ASA I or II paediatric outpatients scheduled for magnetic resonance imaging scans to receive either halothane or sevoflurane anaesthesia. The primary outcome measure was the percentage of patients with emergence agitation, as defined by two different criteria. Time to discharge from the postanaesthesia care unit (PACU) and the secondary recovery unit (SRU) were compared. Sevoflurane patients had a greater incidence of emergence delirium when a high threshold for agitation was defined (33% vs. 0%, P = 0.010) and a lower threshold for agitation was applied (80% vs. 12%, P < 0.0001). Discharge times from the PACU and the SRU were not different. We conclude that there is an increased incidence of emergence agitation with sevoflurane anaesthesia compared to halothane independent of any painful stimulus.