The association between caudal anesthesia and increased risk of postoperative surgical complications in boys undergoing hypospadias repair

Brad M Taicher, Jonathan C Routh, John B Eck, Sherry S Ross, John S Wiener, Allison K Ross
Paediatric Anaesthesia 2017, 27 (7): 688-694

INTRODUCTION: Recent reports have suggested that caudal anesthesia may be associated with an increased risk of postoperative surgical complications. We examined our experience with caudal anesthesia in hypospadias repair to evaluate for increased risk of urethrocutaneous fistula or glanular dehiscence.

METHODS: All hypospadias repairs performed by a single surgeon in 2001-2014 were reviewed. Staged or revision surgeries were excluded. Patient age, weight, hypospadias severity, surgery duration, month and year of surgery, caudal anesthesia use, and postoperative complications were recorded. Bivariate and multivariate statistical analyses were performed.

RESULTS: We identified 395 single-stage primary hypospadias repairs. Mean age was 15.6 months; 326 patients had distal (83%) and 69 had proximal (17%) hypospadias. Caudal anesthetics were used in 230 (58%) cases; 165 patients (42%) underwent local penile block at the discretion of the surgeon and/or anesthesiologist. Complications of urethrocutaneous fistula or glanular deshiscence occurred in 22 patients (5.6%) and were associated with caudal anesthetic use (OR 16.5, 95% CI 2.2-123.8, P = 0.007), proximal hypospadias (OR 8.2, 95% CI 3.3-20.0, P < 0.001), increased surgical duration (OR 1.01, 95% CI 1.01-1.02, P < 0.001), and earlier year of practice (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.2-7.9, P = 0.03 for trend). After adjusting for confounding variables via multivariable logistic regression, both caudal anesthetic use (OR 13.4, 95% CI 1.8-101.8, P = 0.01) and proximal hypospadias (OR 6.8, 95% CI 2.7-16.9, P < 0.001) remained highly associated with postoperative complications.

CONCLUSIONS: In our experience, caudal anesthesia was associated with an over 13-fold increase in the odds of developing postoperative surgical complications in boys undergoing hypospadias repair even after adjusting for urethral meatus location. Until further investigation occurs, clinicians should carefully consider the use of caudal anesthesia for children undergoing hypospadias repair.

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Tom Elwood

Those having longer surgery for more complicated lessons would be more likely to have caudal anesthesia selected. Yet another study that merely says that sicker patients do worse.


Albert Angel

Without randomization of the anesthetic technique this surgery is heavily biased by only one surgeon who influenced the choice of anesthetic technique


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