Current anesthesia practice for preterm infants undergoing surgery for necrotizing enterocolitis: A European survey

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Study objective:
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a life-threatening intestinal illness mostly affecting preterm infants, which commonly requires surgery. Anesthetic care for these patients is challenging, due to their prematurity and critical illness with hemodynamic instability. Currently, there are no guidelines for anesthetic care for these vulnerable patients. Therefore, this study aimed to describe current anesthesia practices across Europe for infants undergoing surgery for NEC.

Cross-sectional survey study.

Anesthesiologists working in centers where surgery for NEC is performed across Europe.

A 46-item questionnaire assessing protocols for anesthesia practice, preoperative care, intraoperative care, postoperative care, and the respondent's opinion on the adequacy of anesthetic care for patients with NEC in their center.

Main results:
Out of the 173 responding anesthesiologists from 31 countries, approximately a third had a written standard protocol for anesthetic care in infants. Three quarters of the respondents screened all patients with NEC preoperatively, and a third structurally performed preoperative multidisciplinary consultation. For induction of general anesthesia, most respondents opted for intravenous anesthesia (n = 73, 43%) or a combination of intravenous and inhalation anesthesia (n = 57, 33%). For intravenous induction, they mostly used propofol (n = 58, 44%), followed by midazolam (n = 43, 33%) and esketamine (n = 42, 32%). For maintenance of anesthesia, inhalation anesthetic agents were more commonly used (solely: n = 71, 41%; in combination: n = 37, 22%), almost exclusively with sevoflurane. Postoperative analgesics mainly included paracetamol and/or morphine. Sixty percent of the respondents (n = 104) considered their anesthetic care for patients with NEC adequate. Suggestions for further improvement mainly revolved around monitoring, protocols, and collaboration.

Anesthesia practice for infants undergoing surgery for NEC was highly variable. Most respondents considered the provided anesthetic care for patients with NEC adequate, but also recognized opportunities for further improvement, especially with regards to monitoring, protocols, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111508
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
Early online date5 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jun 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s)


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