Purpose of review: Caudal epidural blockade remains the cornerstone of pediatric regional anesthesia. In this article we provide a comprehensive review of the recent developments in caudal anesthesia in infants and children.
Recent findings: Research has focused on prolonging the duration of single-shot caudal blocks and accurately positioning continuous caudal catheters. New local anesthetics with similar potencies but less toxicity have been introduced. Opioids prolong the duration of analgesia of local anesthetic, but have also been associated with unacceptable side effects, particularly in pediatric outpatients. Various non-opioid adjuncts with more favorable side-effect profiles may increase the duration of analgesia. New ultrasound and nerve-stimulation techniques have been developed to accurately guide epidural catheters to a specific spinal level.
Summary: The addition of ketamine or clonidine to a caudal local anesthetic prolong the duration of the block. However, a preservative-free preparation of ketamine that is suitable for neuraxial use is not widely available. Ultrasound imaging and electrical stimulation are promising options to accurately position a caudal needle. However, because ultrasound imaging is more difficult in older children, nerve stimulation is a more-suitable technique to accurately guide caudal catheters in this patient population. Although complications associated with caudal block are rare, the risks and benefits must be carefully considered on an individual basis.