Regional anaesthesia to improve pain outcomes in paediatric surgical patients: a qualitative systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Suresh, S.; Schaldenbrand, K.; Wallis, B.; De Oliveira, G. S., Jr.

Br J Anaesth. 2014 Jun 8; 113(3):375-390


Summary The development of analgesic interventions in paediatric surgical patients is often limited by the inherent difficulties of conducting large randomized clinical trials to test interventions in those patients. Regional anaesthesia is a valid strategy to improve postoperative pain in the adult surgical population, but the effects of regional anaesthesia on postoperative pain outcomes in paediatric patients are currently not well defined. The main objective of the current review was to systematically evaluate the use of regional anaesthesia techniques to minimize postoperative pain in paediatric patients. A systematic search was performed to identify randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effects of the regional anaesthesia techniques on postoperative pain outcomes in paediatric surgical patients' procedures. Seventy-three studies on 5125 paediatric patients were evaluated. Only few surgical procedures had more than one small randomized controlled trial favouring the use of regional anaesthesia to minimize postoperative pain (ophthalmological surgery, cleft lip repair, inguinal hernia, and urological procedures). Additional evidence is required to support the use of specific regional anaesthesia techniques to improve postoperative pain for several surgical procedures (craniectomy, adenotonsillectomy, appendectomy, cardiac surgery, umbilical hernia repair, upper and lower extremity) in paediatric patients. Currently, only a very limited number of regional anaesthesia techniques have demonstrated significant improvement on postoperative pain outcomes for a restricted number of surgical procedures. More studies are needed in order to establish regional anaesthesia as a valid strategy to improve analgesia in the paediatric surgical population.

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