New evidence shows that the risks of local and general anesthesia for infants are equal, which may change perceptions among doctors and parents alike about the safety of anesthesia for young children. Doctors often shy away from providing anesthesia for infants because of fears that it may cause long term health complications for their young patients. When infants must have anesthesia, many doctors choose local anesthesia over general anesthesia, reasoning that local anesthesia is safe…
New evidence shows that the risks of local and general anesthesia
for infants are equal, which may change perceptions among doctors and parents alike about the safety of anesthesia for young children.
Doctors often shy away from providing anesthesia for infants because of fears that it may cause long term health complications for their young patients. When infants must have anesthesia, many doctors choose local anesthesia over general anesthesia, reasoning that local anesthesia is safer.
Study Compares Long-Term Impacts
A multi-national study – currently the largest study of its kind on this topic – recently found that the impact of an hour of general anesthesia during surgery is no more damaging to infants than local anesthesia. In the study, conducted in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, physicians tested 722 children who received either general or local anesthesia as infants two years prior to the study.
Local anesthesia leaves patients awake but anesthetizes and immobilizes specific areas of the body. In hernia repair procedures for infants, local anesthesia is often administered to the spine.
The doctors tested the subjects’ cognition, language and motor skills. One of the two groups evaluated by doctors had received less than an hour of general anesthesia during a procedure. The other had received a local anesthetic. The study found that general anesthesia was no more damaging to infants than local anesthesia. The study did show that local anesthesia had fewer short-term safety impacts than general anesthesia, however. According to the study, infants who had received local anesthesia had fewer breathing complications 30 minutes after surgery than the other group.
The new study, published in 2015, contradicts earlier studies that suggested general anesthesia was risky for infants based on its long-term impacts on infant animals. A 2012 study published in “Pediatrics” found that anesthesia could result in later harm to babies with regard to cognition and language development.
More research remains to be done, but the latest findings have been met with enthusiasm by many in the medical profession.
Reliable Anesthesia Services
Whether physicians use local or general anesthesia on their youngest patients, making sure it is properly administered is important. That’s where anesthesiologists can help.
Because infants are not physically robust, doctors anesthetizing them for surgical procedures must take extra care to ensure anesthesia drugs are safely administered and patients carefully monitored during procedures. Anesthesia doctors and nurses specialize in this area of care, and their expertise can be greatly helpful when dealing with delicate patients such as infants.
Trained anesthesia professionals can help physicians better screen patients and ensure procedures go smoothly. This is especially important in ambulatory care facilities, which are performing a growing number of surgical procedures on an outpatient basis – even pediatric surgical procedures.
Strategy Anesthesia partners with a variety of medical practices to provide reliable, clinically competent anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists. By working with Strategy Anesthesia, practices can offer a broader range of procedures in house, allowing them to provide more personalized care directly to their patients. Based in California, Strategy Anesthesia also has offices in Dallas, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; and Montgomery Village, Maryland. To learn more, call (888) 398-6234.