Anesthesia for the Child with an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection: Still a Dilemma?


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Abstract

One of the most controversial issues in pediatric anesthesia has revolved around the decision to proceed with anesthesia and surgery for the child who presents with an upper respiratory tract infection (URI). In the past, doctrine dictated that children with URIs have their surgery postponed until the child was symptom free. This practice was based on the empirically supported premise that anesthesia increased the risk of serious complications and complicated the child’s postoperative course. Although recent clinical data confirm that some children with URIs are at increased risk of perioperative complications, these complications can, for the most part, be anticipated, recognized, and treated. Although the child with a URI still presents a challenge, anesthesiologists are now in a better position to make informed decisions regarding the assessment and management of these children, such that blanket cancellation has now become a thing of the past.

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