Purpose: Our study introduces a novel anesthetic protocol for neonates without using volatile agents with the goal to minimize potentially neurotoxic and pro-apoptotic agents. The authors evaluated the short-term safety and efficacy of our anesthetic protocol in patients undergoing early cleft lip repair (ECLR).

Methods: A retrospective review of ECLR patients who underwent repair before 2.5 months of age within the last 4.3 years was performed. This sample was comprised of 2 groups, those who received either a standard volatile gas-based regimen or a dexmedetomidine-based neonatal anesthetic protocol (DBNAP). Patient demographics, medication dosing, anesthetic time (induction to extubation), major and minor complications, and medication side effects were compared between the 2 cohorts.

Results: A total of 101 patients underwent ECLR. All patients were American Society of Anesthesiologists class 1 or 2. Mean age at surgery was 31 ± 13 days and mean anesthetic time was 179 ± 36 minutes. DBNAP was used in 65 patients while the standard anesthetic protocol was used in 36 patients. Patient weight was significantly lower in the DBNAP group (4.01 ± 0.61 versus 4.38 ± 0.72 kg, P = 0.007). There were no significant differences between the 2 cohorts when comparing anesthetic time, emergence time, complication rate, or medication side effects.

Conclusion: For patients undergoing ECLR, DBNAP is perioperatively equivalent to the anesthetic standard of care, demonstrating no major complications and acceptable rates of minor complications and medication side effects.

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Wlodarczyk  et al.
The Journal of craniofacial surgery November-December 2021