Background. Previous studies indicate a higher incidence of awareness during anaesthesia in children than in adults, that is, around 1% vs 0.2%. In this prospective cohort study, we determined the incidence of intraoperative awareness in children undergoing elective or emergency surgery at a university children's hospital. Methods. Data from 928 consecutive paediatric patients, aged 5-18 yr, were collected prospectively over a 12 month period. Interviews using a structured questionnaire were scheduled at three time points: within 24 h after the operation, and 3-7 and 30 days after operation. Reports of suspected awareness were sent to four independent adjudicators. If they all agreed, the case was classified as a true awareness case. Results. The interviews generated 26 cases of suspected awareness. Six cases were judged to be true awareness, equalling a 0.6% incidence (95% confidence interval 0.03-1.40%). Auditory and sensory perceptions were the sensations most reported by these six children. Pain, anxiety, and paralysis were less often mentioned. The children in general did not report awareness as stressful. Conclusions. The incidence of awareness in this study, in children undergoing general anaesthesia, is comparable with recent reports from other countries, and appears to be higher than that reported in adults.

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Keywords Anaesthesia, paediatric, Complications, Psychological responses, postoperative
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Journal British Journal of Anaesthesia
Blussé van Oud-Alblas, H.J, van Dijk, M, Liu, C, Tibboel, D, Klein, J, & Weber, F. (2009). Intraoperative awareness during paediatric anaesthesia. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 102(1), 104–110. doi:10.1093/bja/aen315