Although the package insert clearly states that “the safety and efficacy of sugammadex in pediatric patients have not been established,” we hypothesized that sugammadex is used widely in pediatric anesthetic practice supplanting neostigmine as the primary drug for antagonizing neuromuscular blockade (NMB). Additionally, we sought to identify the determinants by which pediatric anesthesiologists choose reversal agents and if and how they assess NMB in their practice. Finally, because of sugammadex’s effects on hormonal contraception, we sought to determine whether pediatric anesthesiologists counseled postmenarchal patients on the need for additional or alternative forms of contraception and the risk of unintended pregnancy in the perioperative period.
We e-mailed a questionnaire to all 3245 members of the Society of Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA) requesting demographic data and attitudes regarding use of NMB agents, monitoring, and antagonism practices. To address low initial response rates and quantify nonresponse bias, we sent a shortened follow-up survey to a randomly selected subsample (n = 75) of SPA members who did not initially respond. Response differences between the 2 cohorts were determined.
Initial questionnaire response rate was 13% (419 of 3245). Overall, 163 respondents (38.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 34.2-43.8) used sugammadex as their primary reversal agent, and 106 (25.2%; 95% CI, 21.2-30.0) used it exclusively. Respondents with ≤5 years of practice used sugammadex as their primary reversal agent more often than those with ≥6 years of practice (odds ratio [OR]: 2.08; 95% CI, 1.31-3.31; P = .001). This increased utilization remained after controlling for institutional restriction and practice type (adjusted OR [aOR]: 2.20; 95% CI, 1.38-3.54; P = .001). Only 40% of practitioners always assess NMB (train-of-four), and use was inversely correlated with years of practice (Spearman ρ = −0.11, P = .04). Anesthesiologists who primarily used sugammadex assess NMB less routinely (OR: 0.56; 95% CI, 0.34-0.90; P = .01). A slim majority (52.8%) used sugammadex for pediatric postmenarchal girls; those with less experience used it more commonly (P < .001). Thirty-eight percent did not discuss its effects on hormonal contraception with the patient and/or family, independent of anesthesiologist experience (P = .33) and practice location (P = .38). No significant differences were seen in demographics or practice responses between initial and follow-up survey respondents.
Sugammadex is commonly used in pediatric anesthesia, particularly among anesthesiologists with fewer years of practice. Failure to warn postmenarchal adolescents of its consequences may result in unintended pregnancies. Finally, pediatric anesthesia training programs should emphasize objective monitoring of NMB, particularly with sugammadex use.