Recently, a very low incidence of 3 per 10,000 and a mortality of 30% were reported for pediatric perioperative cardiac arrest (POCA). However, high-risk patients, namely children already anesthetized on the intensive care unit (ICU), were excluded. This study investigates the incidence and mortality of POCA in children in whom anesthesia was induced in the ICU or in the operating room using real-world data. In addition, different classifications of POCA were compared with respect to outcome relevance.
This is a retrospective observational study conducted at a German level 1 perinatal center and tertiary care hospital between 2008 and 2018. Children ≤15 years who underwent an anesthetic procedure and suffered from POCA (defined as any condition requiring chest compressions and/or defibrillation) from the beginning of care provided by an anesthesiologist to 60 minutes after anesthesia or sedation were included. Primary end points were incidence and mortality of POCA in children with anesthesia induced in the ICU versus in the operating room. Secondary end points included incidences and outcomes with respect to the pathophysiological cause (respiratory versus circulatory associated).
There were 18 POCA during 22,650 anesthetic procedures (incidence 7.9 per 10,000; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.7-12.5). Thirty-day mortality was 3.5 per 10,000 (95% CI, 1.5-6.9). Incidence and mortality were higher in children in whom anesthesia was induced in the ICU versus in the operating room (incidence: 131.6; 95% CI, 57 to 257.6 versus 4.5; 95% CI, 2.2-8.3; P < .001; and mortality: 82.2; 95% CI, 26.7-190.8 versus 1.4; 95% CI, 0.3-3.9; P < .001). Mortality in circulatory-induced POCA (n = 8; 44%) was 100%, in respiratory-induced POCA (n = 9; 50%) 0% (P < .001).
Children with anesthesia induction in the ICU represent a high-risk population for POCA and POCA-associated mortality. POCA classification should be based on the individual cause (respiratory versus circulatory) rather than on the perioperative phase or the responsible specialty.