BACKGROUND Although a neuromuscular blocking agent during induction of anesthesia is the standard of care in adults, some pediatric anaesthesiologists remain concerned about their use for several reasons. Therefore, propofol and short-acting opioids with a moderate concentration of sevoflurane have been used as alternatives to a neuromuscular blocking agent.
AIMS This study compared propofol, alfentanil, and rocuronium to determine the optimal anesthetic agent for intubation conditions as well as emergence in a short pediatric procedure.
METHODS In this prospective, randomized, double-blind study, 114 pediatric patients, aged 1-9 yr were randomly assigned to one of three groups receiving either propofol 2 mg kg -1 (propofol group), alfentanil 14mcg kg -1 (alfentanil group) or rocuronium 0.3 mg kg -1 (rocuronium group). The primary outcome was intubating conditions, which were evaluated 90 seconds after test drug administration. Vital signs were recorded during the intubation period. Complications during and after emergence, time to recovery, airway related complications, and severity of emergence agitation were recorded.
RESULTS Compared to the propofol group (60%), significantly more excellent intubating conditions were observed in the alfentanil group (97%, percent difference -37, 95% confidence interval(CI) -54.4 to -21.0, p<0.001) and the rocuronium group (87%, percent difference -27, 95% CI -46.5 to -8.2, p=0.041). Hemodynamic responses were different between the rocuronium and alfentanil groups, although the incidence of adverse events was not different among the three groups. The emergence duration was only statistically different between the rocuronium group [9.9 ± 3.2 min] and the propofol group [11.7 ± 2.2 min](difference 95% CI 0.667 to 3.583, p=0.001,), while that of the alfentanil group [10.9 ± 2.4 min] was comparable with the other groups.
CONCLUSIONS Both 0.3 mg kg -1 rocuronium and 14 µg kg -1 alfentanil are superior adjuncts for tracheal intubation in children undergoing frenulectomy in comparison to 2 mg kg -1 propofol. Hemodynamic adverse events and recovery profiles were comparable among the three groups.