Caudal epidural blockade in children is one of the most widely administered techniques of regional anaesthesia. Recent clinical studies have answered major pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic questions, thus providing the scientific background for safe and effective blocks in daily clinical practice and demonstrating that patient selection can be expanded to range from extreme preterm births up to 50 kg of body weight. This narrative review discusses the main findings in the current literature with regard to patient selection (sub-umbilical vs mid-abdominal indications, contraindications, low-risk patients with spinal anomalies); anatomical considerations (access problems, age and body positioning, palpation for needle insertion); technical considerations (verification of needle position by ultrasound vs landmarks vs ‘whoosh’ or ‘swoosh’ testing); training and equipment requirements (learning curve, needle types, risk of tissue spreading); complications and safety (paediatric regional anaesthesia, caudal blocks); local anaesthetics (bupivacaine vs ropivacaine, risk of toxicity in children, management of toxic events); adjuvant drugs (clonidine, dexmedetomidine, opioids, ketamine); volume dosing (dermatomal reach, cranial rebound); caudally accessed lumbar or thoracic anaesthesia (contamination risk, verifying catheter placement); and postoperative pain. Caudal blocks are an efficient way to offer perioperative analgesia for painful sub-umbilical interventions. Performed on sedated children, they enable not only early ambulation, but also periprocedural haemodynamic stability and spontaneous breathing in patient groups at maximum risk of a difficult airway. These are important advantages over general anaesthesia, notably in preterm babies and in children with cardiopulmonary co-morbidities. Compared with other techniques of regional anaesthesia, a case for caudal blocks can still be made.

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