Anesthesia for Ambulatory Pediatric Surgery in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Pilot Study in Burkina Faso

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Long surgical wait times and limited hospital capacity are common obstacles to surgical care in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Introducing ambulatory surgery might contribute to a solution to these problems. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the safety and feasibility of introducing ambulatory surgery into a pediatric hospital in SSA.


This is a cross-sectional descriptive study that took place over 6 months. It includes all patients assigned to undergo ambulatory surgery in the Pediatric University Hospital in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Eligibility criteria for the ambulatory surgery program included >1 year of age, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) 1 status, surgery with a low risk of bleeding, lasting <90 minutes, and with an expectation of mild to moderate postoperative pain. The family had to live within 1 hour of the hospital and be available by telephone.


During the study period, a total of 1250 patients underwent surgery, of whom 515 were elective cases; 115 of these met the criteria for ambulatory surgery; 103 patients, with an average age of 59.74 ± 41.57 months, actually underwent surgery. The principal indications for surgery were inguinal (62) and umbilical (47) hernias. All patients had general anesthesia with halothane. Sixty-five percent also received regional or local anesthesia consisting of caudal block in 79.23% or nerve block in 20.77%. The average duration of surgery was 33 ± 17.47 minutes. No intraoperative complications were noted. All the patients received acetaminophen and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug in the recovery room. Twelve (11.7%) patients had complications in recovery, principally nausea and vomiting. Eight (7.8%) patients were admitted to the hospital.


No serious complications were associated with ambulatory surgery. Its introduction could possibly be a solution to improving pediatric surgical access in low-income countries.

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