Complications in paediatric regional anaesthesia: a narrative review

Keywords: paediatric regional anaesthesia, complications, regional block


Paediatric anaesthesia and paediatric regional anaesthesia are intertwined. Currently, almost all paediatric patients posted for surgery could and should be given a regional block unless and until contraindicated. This is because the scope, techniques, and their benefits have a wide range and complications are rare. The first report that used regional anaesthesia in children was in 1898, and over the last 120 years it has been developed with many scholars’ wisdom, ideas and publications. Paediatric regional anaesthesia (PRA) has many advantages but requires experience and expertise. For a long-time, exclusively landmark-guided techniques were used and gradually the development of new techniques such as the use of neuro-stimulator and ultrasound-guided (USG) blocks developed into PRA. Especially, the application of ultrasonography (US) has revolutionised the practice of PRA. Few limitations of regional anaesthesia can be tackled by the use of US, leading to shorter time to perform the block, reduced time for block onset and use of a smaller volume of local anaesthetic. Life threatening complications of regional anaesthesia are rare and the riskbenefit ratio is favourable. However, a thorough insight into RA complications, no matter how rare they are, is essential for safe practice. This is because they can be life-threatening, and no matter how small the percentage is, when complications occur, for that individual patient statistics is irrelevant.

Paediatric Anaesthesia Community of South Africa 2020 Congress Supplement