Infants who undergo surgery fare better if they receive regional anesthesia instead of general anesthesia, researchers have found, though more training is needed for providers to administer infant spinal anesthesia.
Two new studies, published in the journal Anesthesiology, examined the effectiveness of the two methods among infant patients undergoing hernia surgery.
In one of the studies, researchers compared the rates of apnea in 772 infants who received either general or regional anesthesia to undergo hernia repair surgery. They found that those who received regional anesthesia had a reduced risk of apnea in the first 30 minutes of surgery.
“Our research provides the strongest evidence to date on how babies should have anesthesia for hernia repair — the most common procedure among infants,” says Andrew Davidson, MD, study author and associate professor at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. “We found that spinal anesthesia is safer than general anesthesia.”
The second study looked only at the 339 of the 772 infants who had spinal surgery. It found that in 16.8% of the cases, an additional form of anesthesia had to be administered to complete the procedure. Researchers say this points to the steep learning curve and need for more training for providers to administer infant spinal anesthesia.