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We evaluated the analgesic efficacy and hemodynamic and respiratory safety of clonidine when added to bupivacaine for caudal blocks in 58 children aged 38 +/-2 mo (mean +/- SEM). Patients scheduled for ambulatory hernia repair were randomly given a caudal injection (0.75 mL/kg) of either saline placebo (P group), bupivacaine, 0.25% (B group), bupivacaine plus epinephrine 1:200,000 (BE group), bupivacaine plus clonidine 1 micro g/kg (BC1 group), or bupivacaine plus clonidine 2 micro g/kg (BC2 group). Postoperative measurements included duration of analgesia, hemodynamics, and respiratory monitoring for 6 h. Thereafter, parents assessed their child's analgesic requirements at home every 3 h for 18 h. The duration of analgesia (median [range]) was significantly longer (P < 0.05) in the BC1 and BC2 groups (360 [270-360] min and 360 [355-360] min, respectively) compared with the P (77[45-190]), B (346[105-360]), or BE group (300[75-360]). Similarly, the BC1 and BC2 groups required less additional analgesic within the first 24 h. All groups showed a significant decrease in mean arterial pressure compared with baseline values, but the differences among the groups were not significant. Bradycardia and respiratory depression were not observed. Clonidine 1 and 2 micro g/kg can be safely added to bupivacaine caudal blockade in small children for ambulatory hernia repair to achieve an increased duration of analgesia compared with bupivacaine alone or bupivacaine plus epinephrine. Implications: The addition of clonidine, an antihypertensive drug with analgesic properties, to local anesthetics in caudal blocks prolongs postoperative pain relief and reduces the need for additional pain treatment in children after hernia operation.