Patient-controlled epidural analgesia in children: Can they do it?

Patrick K. Birmingham*, Melissa Wheeler, Santhanam Suresh, Richard M. Dsida, Bronwyn R. Rae, Jennifer Obrecht, Vicki A. Andreoni, Steven C. Hall, Charles J. Coté

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Extensive clinical experience and many studies support the use of IV patient-controlled analgesia (IV PCA) and regional anesthesia techniques for the treatment of postoperative pain in children. In contrast, little has been reported about the ability of children to use patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) or about the efficacy of this technique. We report a descriptive analysis of prospectively recorded data in 128 children (132 procedures) in whom PCEA was used for acute postoperative pain control. Satisfactory analgesia was obtained in 119 patients (90.1%) for up to 103 h with no episodes of desaturation and without clinical evidence of toxicity or serious adverse effects. Analgesia was satisfactory with the initial settings in 89 patients; in 38 others, this was achieved with changes in PCEA settings or solution. Five patients were switched to IV PCA because of inadequate analgesia. Eight patients with satisfactory analgesia were converted to IV PCA because of adverse effects. Children as young as 5 yr had the cognitive ability to understand and the willingness to use PCEA, consistent with reported use of IV PCA. Careful attention should be paid to the total hourly local anesthetic dose to avoid exceeding the recommended limits. Our prospectively collected data demonstrate that PCEA provides satisfactory analgesia with a small incidence of adverse side effects in children and should be considered along with other strategies in pediatric postoperative pain management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-691
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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