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Shortened Fasting Feasible for Children Undergoing Surgery

Improves perioperative experience without raising pulmonary aspiration incidence

MONDAY, May 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of pulmonary aspiration is low in children undergoing elective surgery, even when allowed free clear fluids until called to the operating suite, according to research published online May 4 in Pediatric Anesthesia.

Hanna Andersson, from the Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed anesthesia charts, X-rays, and discharge notes in the electronic medical record system for elective pediatric procedures (January 2008 to December 2013). The authors sought to determine the incidence of perioperative pulmonary aspiration in patients allowed unlimited intake of clear fluids prior to general anesthesia. Radiological findings consistent with aspiration and/or postoperative symptoms of respiratory distress after vomiting during anesthesia were used to define pulmonary aspiration.

The researchers found that of the 10,015 pediatric anesthetics evaluated, aspiration occurred in three cases (0.03 percent). Cancellation of the surgical procedure, intensive care or ventilation support, nor deaths attributable to aspiration occurred. An additional 14 cases of pulmonary aspiration were suspected but not confirmed by radiology or continuing symptoms.

"Shortened fasting times may improve the perioperative experience for parents and children with a low risk of aspiration," the authors write.

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