Apnea after Awake Regional and General Anesthesia in Infants: The General Anesthesia Compared to Spinal Anesthesia Study-Comparing Apnea and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes, a Randomized Controlled Trial

Andrew J. Davidson*, Neil S. Morton, Sarah J. Arnup, Jurgen C. De Graaff, Nicola Disma, Davinia E. Withington, Geoff Frawley, Rodney W. Hunt, Pollyanna Hardy, Magda Khotcholava, Britta S. Von Ungern Sternberg, Niall Wilton, Pietro Tuo, Ida Salvo, Gillian Ormond, Robyn Stargatt, Bruno Guido Locatelli, Mary Ellen McCann, Katherine Lee, Suzette SheppardPenelope Hartmann, Philip Ragg, Marie Backstrom, David Costi, Britta S. Von Ungern-Sternberg, Graham Knottenbelt, Giovanni Montobbio, Leila Mameli, Gaia Giribaldi, Alessio Pini Prato, Girolamo Mattioli, Andrea Wolfler, Francesca Izzo, Valter Sonzogni, Jose T.D.G. Van Gool, Sandra C. Numan, Cor J. Kalkman, J. H.M. Hagenaars, Anthony R. Absalom, Frouckje M. Hoekstra, Martin J. Volkers, Koto Furue, Josee Gaudreault, Charles Berde, Sulpicio Soriano, Vanessa Young, Navil Sethna, Pete Kovatsis, Joseph P. Cravero, David Bellinger, Jacki Marmor, Anne Lynn, Iskra Ivanova, Agnes Hunyady, Shilpa Verma, David Polaner, Joss Thomas, Martin Meuller, Denisa Haret, Peter Szmuk, Jeffery Steiner, Brian Kravitz, Santhanam Suresh, Stephen R. Hays, Andreas H. Taenzer, Lynne G. Maxwell, Robert K. Williams, Graham T. Bell, Liam Dorris, Claire Adey, Oliver Bagshaw, Anthony Chisakuta, Ayman Eissa, Peter Stoddart, Annette Davis, Paul Myles, Andy Wolf, Neil McIntosh, John Carlin, Kate Leslie, Jonathan De Lima, Greg Hammer, David Field, Val Gebski, Dick Tibboel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

63 Scopus citations


Background: Postoperative apnea is a complication in young infants. Awake regional anesthesia (RA) may reduce the risk; however, the evidence is weak. The General Anesthesia compared to Spinal anesthesia study is a randomized, controlled trial designed to assess the influence of general anesthesia (GA) on neurodevelopment. A secondary aim is to compare rates of apnea after anesthesia. Methods: Infants aged 60 weeks or younger, postmenstrual age scheduled for inguinal herniorrhaphy, were randomized to RA or GA. Exclusion criteria included risk factors for adverse neurodevelopmental outcome and infants born less than 26 weeks gestation. The primary outcome of this analysis was any observed apnea up to 12 h postoperatively. Apnea assessment was unblinded. Results: Three hundred sixty-three patients were assigned to RA and 359 to GA. Overall, the incidence of apnea (0 to 12 h) was similar between arms (3% in RA and 4% in GA arms; odds ratio [OR], 0.63; 95% CI, 0.31 to 1.30, P = 0.2133); however, the incidence of early apnea (0 to 30 min) was lower in the RA arm (1 vs. 3%; OR, 0.20; 95% CI, 0.05 to 0.91; P = 0.0367). The incidence of late apnea (30 min to 12 h) was 2% in both RA and GA arms (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.41 to 3.33; P = 0.7688). The strongest predictor of apnea was prematurity (OR, 21.87; 95% CI, 4.38 to 109.24), and 96% of infants with apnea were premature. Conclusions: RA in infants undergoing inguinal herniorrhaphy reduces apnea in the early postoperative period. Cardiorespiratory monitoring should be used for all ex-premature infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-54
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Cite this

Davidson, A. J., Morton, N. S., Arnup, S. J., De Graaff, J. C., Disma, N., Withington, D. E., Frawley, G., Hunt, R. W., Hardy, P., Khotcholava, M., Von Ungern Sternberg, B. S., Wilton, N., Tuo, P., Salvo, I., Ormond, G., Stargatt, R., Locatelli, B. G., McCann, M. E., Lee, K., ... Tibboel, D. (2015). Apnea after Awake Regional and General Anesthesia in Infants: The General Anesthesia Compared to Spinal Anesthesia Study-Comparing Apnea and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes, a Randomized Controlled Trial. Anesthesiology, 123(1), 38-54. https://doi.org/10.1097/ALN.0000000000000709