The large study looks at how recent upper respiratory infections (URI) affect the risk of adverse respiratory events in children receiving anaesthesia using the laryngeal mask airway (LMA). The results suggest that, although the overall risk is low and serious complications are rare when anaesthesia is delivered in children via an LMA, waiting two weeks after a URI may make anaesthesia even safer.

Over a five-month period, the researchers asked parents of children undergoing surgery to provide information on any recent URIs, such as colds, sinusitis, or tonsillitis. All of the children were under general anaesthesia for their procedures. Airway management was achieved via an LMA—a device sometimes recommended as an alternative to a standard tracheal tube for anaesthesia in children with recent URIs.

According to the parents, 27 percent of children had had a URI in the previous two weeks. Children with recent URIs were about twice as likely to develop certain adverse respiratory events. The most common event was a decrease in the blood oxygen level, called desaturation, during anaesthesia. Overall, 20 percent of children had episodes of desaturation requiring oxygen administration in the recovery room. Although these events were more frequent in children with recent URIs, they were no more severe.

Children with URIs also had a greater rate of a respiratory event called laryngospasm, which is a sudden closure of the vocal cords. In severe cases, laryngospasm can cause serious breathing problems. However, none of the children in the study had severe laryngospasm. Children with recent URIs were also at almost double the risk of problems with coughing after their procedure.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists