Introduction Potential neurotoxicity of anesthetic drugs has been among the most intensively discussed issue in pediatric anesthesia for more than 10 years. It remains unclear how far this discussion has reached the European pediatric surgical community. Our aim was to investigate the thoughts of pediatric surgeons regarding this topic. In addition, we provide an update on the current scientific evidence regarding neurotoxicity together with recommendations for clinical practice.
Materials and Methods A web-based survey to assess the thoughts of practicing European pediatric surgeons regarding neurotoxicity and how it may have influenced their daily practice of pediatric surgery was launched via the European Pediatric Surgeons’ Association Web site.
Results A total of 72 responses could be analyzed. A majority of the respondents were interested in the topic but felt a need to further explore it. Thirty-one respondents have changed their daily practice of pediatric surgery due to potential anesthetic drug toxicity. Eighteen respondents reported to be concerned about neurotoxicity, 29 held a neutral position, and 8 were not concerned. Twenty-seven respondents found it a shared responsibility of the surgeon and the anesthesiologist to deal with the neurotoxicity issue. The majority of respondents found a necessity for further research on anesthetic drug neurotoxicity, assigning the highest priority to prospective longitudinal human studies and the lowest to animal studies.
Conclusion The neurotoxicity question has reached the pediatric surgical community. Currently available scientific data do not support the theory of anesthetic drug-induced neurotoxicity in young children. Recent interdisciplinary clinical research focuses on neurodevelopmental outcome after surgery in neonates and infants. The European Safe Anesthesia For Every Tot initiative suggests focusing on proper conduct of anesthesia in children rather than on possible anesthetic drug neurotoxicity.