Assessing pediatric anesthesia practices for volunteer medical services abroad

Quentin A. Fisher, David Nichols, Frank C. Stewart, G. Allen Finley, William P. Magee, Kristi Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background: Anesthetic techniques and problems in volunteer medical services abroad are different from those of either the developed countries from which volunteers originate or the host country in which they serve because of differences in patient population, facilities, and goals for elective surgery. Assessing outcomes is hampered by the transience of medical teams and the global dispersion of providers. We studied general anesthesia techniques and outcomes in a large international voluntary surgical program. Methods: Anesthesia providers and nurses participating in care of patients undergoing reconstructive plastic and orthopedic surgery by Operation Smile over an 18-month period were asked to complete a quality assurance data record for each case. Incomplete data were supplemented by reviewing the original patient records. Results: General anesthesia was used in 87.1% of the 6,037 cases reviewed. The median age was 5 yr (25th-75th percentiles: 2-9 yr). Orofacial clefts accounted for more than 80% of procedures. Halothane mask induction was performed in 85.6% of patients; 96.3% of patients had tracheal intubation, which was facilitated with a muscle relaxant in 19.3%. Respiratory complications occurred during anesthesia in 5.0% of patients and during recovery (postanesthesia care unit) in 3.3%. Arrhythmias requiring therapy occurred in 1.5%, including three patients to whom cardiopulmonary resuscitation was administered. Prolonged ventilatory support was required in seven patients. There was one death. Inadvertent extubation during surgery occurred in 38 patients. Cancellation of surgery after induction of anesthesia occurred in 25 patients. Overall, complications were more common in younger children. Conclusions: Our study showed that in this setting it is feasible to track anesthesia practice patterns and adverse perioperative events. We identified issues for further examination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1315-1322
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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