[Paracetamol in childhood. Current state of knowledge and indications for a rational approach to postoperative analgesia]

Anaesthesist. 2002 Sep;51(9):735-46. doi: 10.1007/s00101-002-0359-9.
[Article in German]


The administration of paracetamol (in the US known as acetaminophen) to children and infants for postoperative pain after minor surgery is a well established and safe treatment option, if appropriately used. However, if paracetamol is dosed according to traditional recommendations (about 20 mg/kg body weight) frequently a sufficient analgetic effect cannot be achieved immediately after painful interventions. Recently, a higher initial dose (40 mg/kg body weight) was suggested for effective postoperative pain control, which seems especially important for children after ambulatory anesthesia, but may also be associated with certain risks to the patient. Current recommendations also involve appropriate timing and route of administration of paracetamol to be most effective under different clinical circumstances. In contrast, the risk for liver toxicity appears to be very low, if the daily paracetamol dose does not exceed 90 mg/kg body weight in otherwise healthy children, and if specific risk factors of the individual patient are always considered. This review discusses the recent publications on pharmacokinetics and -dynamics, the clinical use and dosing, as well as the risks and benefits of paracetamol for the treatment of postoperative pain in children and infants. Based on this information, specific dosing regimes for the postoperative period are suggested for neonates and infants, as well as for children in different age groups.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / administration & dosage
  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects
  • Acetaminophen / pharmacokinetics
  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use*
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / adverse effects
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / pharmacokinetics
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Risk Factors


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Acetaminophen