Evaluation of emergence delirium in Asian children using the Pediatric Anesthesia Emergence Delirium Scale

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Emergence delirium (ED) is a common problem in children recovering from general anesthesia. ED causes disruption in the postanesthetic care unit, making nursing and monitoring more difficult, and is potentially dangerous to the child. The greatest hindrance to understanding ED was the lack of a standardized tool to assess it. The Pediatric Anesthesia Emergence Delirium (PAED) Scale was recently described to measure the degree of ED in children. In this prospective observational study, we sought to evaluate the incidence of ED by grading emergence behavior using the PAED Score in healthy Asian children undergoing outpatient surgery.


Three hundred sixteen children aged 2–12 years undergoing general anesthesia for elective outpatient surgery were included. No premedication was administered. Induction behavior was graded using the induction compliance checklist, and the presence of any excitation on induction documented. Emergence behavior was recorded using the PAED Scale, and the children were separately assessed for clinical agitation.


One hundred and thirty-six children (43%) had PAED Scores >0 and 33 (10.4%) had PAED Scores of ≥10. Only 28 children (8.9%) had clinical agitation consistent with ED, the rest were agitated for other reasons. A score of ≥10 on the PAED Scale was the best discriminator between presence and absence of clinical agitation. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for PAED Score of ≥10 was 0.98, with a true-positive rate (sensitivity) of 0.85 and a false-positive rate (1-specificity) of 0.041. Four factors were found to be predictive of ED. These include young age, poor compliance at induction, lack of intraoperative fentanyl use and rapid time to awakening.


The incidence of ED is approximately 10% in our population of healthy, unpremedicated Asian children undergoing day surgery. Young age, poor compliance at induction, lack of intraoperative fentanyl use and rapid time to awakening were predictive risk factors for ED in our population. A PAED Score of ≥10 was correlated with clinically significant ED and appeared to be the ideal cutoff score for ED.

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