European Journal of Anaesthesiology, May 2015. Martin J
Prophylactic analgesia with local anaesthesia is widely used in children and has a good safety record. Performing regional blocks in anaesthetised children is a safe and generally accepted practice. When compared with adults, lower concentrations of local anaesthetics are sufficient in children; the onset of a block occurs more rapidly but the duration is usually shorter. Local anaesthetics have a greater volume of distribution, a lower clearance and a higher free (non-protein-bound) fraction. The recommended maximum dose has to be calculated for every individual. Peripheral blocks provide analgesia restricted to the site of surgery, and some of them have a very long duration of action. Abdominal wall blocks, such as transverse abdominis plane or ilio-inguinal nerve block, should be performed with the aid of ultrasound. Caudal anaesthesia is the single most important technique. Ropivacaine 0.2% or levobupivacaine 0.125 to 0.175% at roughly 1 ml kg−1 is adequate for most indications. Clonidine and morphine can be used to prolong the duration of analgesia. Ultrasound is not essential for performing caudal blocks, but it may be helpful in case of anomalies suspected at palpation and for teaching purposes. The use of paediatric epidural catheters will probably decline in the future because of the potential complications.
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