Among infants undergoing hernia repair, general anesthesia for less than an hour does not adversely affect early neurodevelopmental outcomes, according to an international study published in the Lancet.
Over 700 infants up to 60 weeks of age being treated for inguinal hernia were randomized to receive either general anesthesia with sevoflurane or awake-regional anesthesia with caudal or spinal blockade. The mean duration of general anesthesia was 54 minutes.
At age 2 years, cognitive scores on a neurodevelopmental scale did not differ significantly between the groups. (This was an interim analysis; the primary endpoint is neurodevelopmental outcome at age 5.)
Commentators say that while the finding is consistent with most previous research, “the case is not yet closed in practice.” They note that different, and multiple, anesthetic agents may be used in other settings. In addition, most of the patients in the current study were male.