Sedation versus General Anesthesia for Tracheal Intubation in Children with Difficult Airways: A Cohort Study from the Pediatric Difficult Intubation Registry

Luis Sequera-Ramos, Elizabeth K. Laverriere, PeDI Collaborative, Annery G. Garcia-Marcinkiewicz, Bingqing Zhang, Pete G. Kovatsis, John E. Fiadjoe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Sedated and awake tracheal intubation approaches are considered safest in adults with difficult airways, but little is known about the outcomes of sedated intubations in children. The primary aim of this study was to compare the first-attempt success rate of tracheal intubation during sedated tracheal intubation versus tracheal intubation under general anesthesia. The hypothesis was that sedated intubation would be associated with a lower first-attempt success rate and more complications than general anesthesia. Methods: This study used data from an international observational registry, the Pediatric Difficult Intubation Registry, which prospectively collects data about tracheal intubation in children with difficult airways. The use of sedation versus general anesthesia for tracheal intubation were compared. The primary outcome was the first-attempt success of tracheal intubation. Secondary outcomes included the number of intubation attempts and nonsevere and severe complications. Propensity score matching was used with a matching ratio up to 1:15 to reduce bias due to measured confounders. Results: Between 2017 and 2020, 34 hospitals submitted 1,839 anticipated difficult airway cases that met inclusion criteria for the study. Of these, 75 patients received sedation, and 1,764 patients received general anesthesia. Propensity score matching resulted in 58 patients in the sedation group and 522 patients in the general anesthesia group. The rate of first-attempt success of tracheal intubation was 28 of 58 (48.3%) in the sedation group and 250 of 522 (47.9%) in the general anesthesia group (odds ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.60 to 1.87; P = 0.846). The median number of intubations attempts was 2 (interquartile range, 1 to 3) in the sedation group and 2 (interquartile range, 1, 2) in the general anesthesia group. The general anesthesia group had 6 of 522 (1.1%) intubation failures versus 0 of 58 in the sedation group. However, 16 of 58 (27.6%) sedation cases had to be converted to general anesthesia for successful tracheal intubation. Complications were similar between the groups, and the rate of severe complications was low. Conclusions: Sedation and general anesthesia had a similar rate of first-attempt success of tracheal intubation in children with difficult airways; however, 27.6% of the sedation cases needed to be converted to general anesthesia to complete tracheal intubation. Complications overall were similar between the groups, and the rate of severe complications was low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-433
Number of pages16
JournalAnesthesiology
Volume137
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by internal funding from the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.

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