Understanding the duration of pediatric general anesthesia exposure in contemporary practice is important for identifying groups at risk for long general anesthesia exposures and designing trials examining associations between general anesthesia exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes.


We performed a retrospective cohort analysis to estimate pediatric general anesthesia exposure duration during 2010-2015 using the National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry.


A total of 1 548 021 pediatric general anesthetics were included. Median general anesthesia duration was 57 minutes (IQR: 28-86) with 90th percentile 145 minutes. Children aged <1 year had the longest median exposure duration (79 minutes, IQR: 39-119) with 90th percentile 210 minutes, and 13.7% of this very young cohort was exposed for >3 hours. High ASA physical status and care at a university hospital were associated with longer exposure times.


While the vast majority (94%) of children undergoing general anesthesia are exposed for <3 hours, certain groups may be at increased risk for longer exposures. These findings may help guide the design of future trials aimed at understanding neurodevelopmental impact of prolonged exposure in these high-risk groups.

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