Muscle relaxation for tracheal intubation during paediatric anaesthesia: A meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis

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Muscle relaxation for tracheal intubation during paediatric anaesthesia remains a subject of debate.


The aim of the current meta-analysis was to investigate the effect of muscle relaxants (MR) compared with opioids on intubation conditions in children.


Meta-analysis of randomised controlled studies.


Exhaustive literature analysis.


Clinical trials, with no high-risk bias, that examined the effect of MR in comparison with opioids on intubation conditions (excellent: primary outcome, acceptable: secondary outcome) in children were included.


Excellent intubation conditions were not significantly different in their occurrence between children receiving MR or opioids, risk ratio [95% Confidence Interval]  = 1.17 [0.96, 1.43], I2 = 36%, number of studies = 5, number of patients = 226. However, trial sequential analysis indicated the lack of power of this result and the need for more trials to provide certainty for this outcome (81 patients needed in future trials). Acceptable intubation conditions were more frequent when administering MR, risk ratio = 1.25 [1.06, 1.47], I2 = 70%, number of studies = 6, number of patients = 362. This effect was confirmed using the trial sequential analysis. Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation analysis found a low and moderate quality of evidences for excellent and acceptable intubation conditions, respectively.


The current meta-analysis shows that the use of MR during tracheal intubation might improve the quality of intubation conditions. Further studies, including at least 81 children, are required to confirm this and determine the impact of MR on complications related to intubation.

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