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Pro con debate: the use of regional vs systemic analgesia for neonatal surgery

Authors


  • Section Editor: Andrew Wolf

Andrew R Wolf, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital, Upper Maudlin Street, Bristol BS2 8BJ, UK
Email: awolfbch@aol.com

Summary

In recent years the inclusion of regional techniques to pediatric anesthesia has transformed practice. Simple procedures such as caudal anesthesia with local anaesthetics can reduce the amounts of general anesthesia required and provide complete analgesia in the postoperative period while avoiding large amounts of opioid analgesia with potential side effects that can impair recovery. However, the application of central blocks (epidural and spinal local anesthesia) via catheters in the younger infant, neonate and even preterm neonate remains more controversial. The potential for such invasive maneuvers themselves to augment risk, can be argued to outweigh the benefits, others would argue that epidural analgesia can reduce the need for postoperative ventilation and that this not only facilitates surgery when intensive care facilities are limited, but also reduces cost in terms of PICU stay and recovery profile. Currently, opinions are divided and strongly held with some major units adopting this approach widely and others maintaining a more conservative stance to anesthesia for major neonatal surgery. In this pro-con debate the evidence base is examined, supplemented with expert opinion to try to provide a balanced overall view.

Ancillary