Emergence delirium, a manifestation of acute postoperative brain dysfunction, is frequently observed after pediatric anesthesia and has been associated with the use of sevoflurane. Both xenon and dexmedetomidine possess numerous desirable properties for the anesthesia of children with congenital heart disease, including hemodynamic stability, lack of neurotoxicity, and a reduced incidence of emergence delirium. Combining both drugs has never been studied as a balanced-anesthesia technique. This combination allows the provision of anesthesia without administering anesthetic drugs against which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning for the use in young children.


In this phase-II, mono-center, prospective, single-blinded, randomized, controlled pilot trial, we will include a total of 80 children aged 0–3 years suffering from congenital heart disease and undergoing general anesthesia for elective diagnostic and/or interventional cardiac catheterization. Patients are randomized into two study groups, receiving either a combination of xenon and dexmedetomidine or mono-anesthesia with sevoflurane for the maintenance of anesthesia.

The purpose of this study is to estimate the effect size for xenon-dexmedetomidine versus sevoflurane anesthesia with respect to the incidence of emergence delirium in children. We will also describe group differences for a variety of secondary outcome parameters including peri-interventional hemodynamics, emergence characteristics, incidence of postoperative vomiting, and the feasibility of a combined xenon-dexmedetomidine anesthesia in children.


Sevoflurane is the most frequently used anesthetic in young children, but has been indicated as an independent risk factor in the development of emergence delirium. Xenon and dexmedetomidine have both been associated with a reduction in the incidence of emergence delirium. Combining xenon and dexmedetomidine has never been described as a balanced-anesthesia technique in children. Our pilot study will therefore deliver important data required for future prospective clinical trials.

Read More