Prospective evaluation of propofol anesthesia in the pediatric intensive care unit for elective oncology procedures in ambulatory and hospitalized children

J H Hertzog, H J Dalton, B D Anderson, A T Shad, J E Gootenberg, G J Hauser
Pediatrics 2000, 106 (4): 742-7

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate our experience with propofol anesthesia delivered by pediatric intensivists in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) to facilitate elective oncology procedures in children performed by pediatric oncologists.

METHODS: Elective oncology procedures performed with propofol anesthesia in our multidisciplinary, university-affiliated PICU were prospectively evaluated over a 7-month period. Ambulatory and hospitalized children were prescheduled for their procedure, underwent a medical evaluation, and met fasting requirements before the start of anesthesia. Continuous cardiorespiratory and neurologic monitoring was performed by a pediatric intensivist and a PICU nurse, while the procedure was performed by a pediatric oncologist. Propofol was delivered in intermittent boluses to achieve the desired level of anesthesia. Information studied included patient demographics, procedures performed, induction and total doses of propofol used, the duration of the different phases of the patient's PICU stay, the occurrence of side effects, the need for therapeutic interventions, and the incidence of recall of the procedure.

RESULTS: Fifty procedures in 28 children (mean age: 7.5 +/- 4.3 years) were evaluated. Sixty-one percent of patients had established diagnoses. Fifty-four percent of procedures were lumbar puncture with intrathecal chemotherapy administration and 26% of procedures were bone marrow aspirations with biopsy. Induction propofol doses were 2. 0 +/-.8 mg/kg for ambulatory and hospitalized patients, while total propofol doses were 6.6 +/- 2.3 mg/kg and 7.9 +/- 2.4 mg/kg for ambulatory and hospitalized patients, respectively. Induction time was 1.5 +/-.7 minutes, recovery time was 23.4 +/- 11.5 minutes, and total PICU time was 88.8 +/- 27.7 minutes. Transient decreases in systolic blood pressure less than the fifth percentile for age occurred in 64% of procedures, with a mean decrease of 25% +/- 10%. Intravenous fluids were administered in 31% of these cases. Hypotension was more common in ambulatory patients but was not predicted by propofol dose, anesthesia time, or age. Partial airway obstruction was noted in 12% of procedures while apnea requiring bag-valve-mask ventilation occurred in 2% of procedures. Neither was associated with age, propofol dose, or the duration of anesthesia. All procedures were successfully completed and there were no incidences of recall of the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS: Propofol anesthesia is effective in achieving patient comfort and amnesia, while optimizing conditions for elective oncology procedures in children. Although transient hypotension and respiratory depression may occur, propofol anesthesia seems to be safe to use for these procedures in the PICU setting. Recovery from anesthesia was rapid and total stay was brief. Under the proper conditions, propofol anesthesia delivered by pediatric intensivists in the PICU is a reasonable option available to facilitate invasive oncology procedures in children.

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