Bupivacaine caudal epidural anesthesia: assessing the effect of general anesthetic technique on block onset

P M Ingelmo, E J Bendall, G Frawley, B G Locatelli, B Milan, D Lodetti, R Fumagalli
Paediatric Anaesthesia 2007, 17 (3): 255-62

BACKGROUND: The primary objective of this prospective, randomized trial was to compare the effect of propofol and sevoflurane on effectiveness of regional anesthesia. As a secondary objective, we aimed at evaluating the influence of age on neuraxial block profile.

METHODS: One hundred and thirteen healthy children aged <10 years, scheduled for general or urological surgical procedures were randomly allocated to receive either propofol or sevoflurane induction and maintenance. Children received caudal or lumbar epidural block depending on their weight and expected surgery. Time to onset of surgical anesthesia, intraoperative analgesic effectiveness, residual motor blockade, postoperative pain, and adverse effects were evaluated. To assess the influence of age on these measures children were further divided into three age groups: 0-24, 25-60 and >60 months.

RESULTS: The mean time to onset of surgical anesthesia was significantly shorter in the sevoflurane group than the propofol group (3.1 vs 4.7 min, P < 0.01), independent of the type of regional technique employed. Distress on arousal in recovery was increased in children receiving sevoflurane (P = 0.03). There was no significant difference in residual motor blockade between the groups but children between 0 and 24 months receiving sevoflurane had a higher incidence of residual motor blockade 3 h after local anesthetic injection (P = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: This study has demonstrated that general anesthesia with sevoflurane decreases the time to onset of surgical anesthesia relative to propofol anesthesia. This effect was most marked when sevoflurane anesthesia preceded caudal epidural blockade. The basis for this effect is most likely to be related to differential binding of the two anesthetic agents to receptors in the spinal cord that mediate immobility in response to surgical stimuli.

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