Perioperative respiratory adverse events are common in children. We aimed to evaluate the effect of the transdermal β-2 agonist, tulobuterol, compared with that of placebo on the incidence of perioperative respiratory adverse events in pediatric patients undergoing tonsillectomy.
In this triple-blinded (patient, anesthesia provider, and outcome assessor) randomized controlled trial, 188 patients were randomly allocated to receive tulobuterol or a placebo. The tulobuterol groups received a tulobuterol patch (1 mg) masked with a bandage, whereas the placebo only received the bandage. The assigned bandage was applied to the patients 8 to 10 hours before the surgery. The primary outcome was the occurrence of any perioperative respiratory adverse events: oxygen desaturation <95%, airway obstruction, laryngospasm, bronchospasm, severe coughing, or stridor. The outcomes were evaluated using the average relative effect test, which estimates the effect of individual components of a composite outcome and then averages effects across components.
A total of 88 and 94 patients who received tulobuterol and placebo, respectively, were analyzed. The incidence of any perioperative respiratory adverse event was lower with tulobuterol (n = 13/88; 14.7%) than that with the placebo (n = 40/94; 42.5%), with an estimated average relative risk (95% confidence interval) across components of 0.35 (0.20–0.60; P < .001). The symptoms of airway obstruction were lower with tulobuterol (n = 8/88; 9.0%) than that with the placebo (n = 32/94; 34.0%), with relative risk (95% CI) of 0.31 (0.17–0.56; P < .001). The occurrence of severe coughing was lower with tulobuterol (n = 1/88; 1.1%) than that with the placebo (n = 8/94; 8.5%), with relative risk (95% CI) of 0.15 (0.03–0.68; P = .014).
In preschool children undergoing tonsillectomy, the preoperative application of a tulobuterol patch could decrease the occurrence of perioperative respiratory adverse events. Further studies are needed to elucidate the effect of the tulobuterol patch in a broad spectrum of pediatric anesthesia.