Spinal fusion surgery in children with non-idiopathic scoliosis: is there a need for routine postoperative ventilation?

Br J Anaesth. 2006 Dec;97(6):851-7. doi: 10.1093/bja/ael273. Epub 2006 Oct 11.


Background: The perioperative management of children with non-idiopathic scoliosis undergoing spinal deformity surgery has not been standardized and the current practice is to routinely ventilate these patients in the postoperative period. This study reports the experience from a single institution and evaluates the need and reasons for postoperative ventilation. Details of ventilated patients are presented.

Methods: All patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery for non-idiopathic scoliosis were recorded prospectively (2003-4). Patients were anaesthetized according to a standardized technique. Physical characteristics, cardiopulmonary function, intraoperative blood loss and fluid requirement, postoperative need for ventilation and all perioperative adverse events were recorded on a computer database.

Results: A total of 76.2% of patients were safely extubated at the end of surgery without any further complications or need for re-ventilation; 23.8% of patients required postoperative ventilation with half of the cases being planned before operation and 40% of all patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) required postoperative ventilation. There were no specific factors that could predict the need for postoperative ventilation, although an increased tendency for children with DMD and those with a preoperative forced vital capacity <30% towards requiring postoperative ventilation was observed.

Conclusions: Early extubation can be safely performed after spinal deformity surgery for non-idiopathic scoliosis. The use of short-acting anaesthetics, drugs to reduce blood loss, experienced spinal anaesthetists and the availability of intensive care support are all essential for a good outcome in patients with neuromuscular disease and cardiopulmonary co-morbidity.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia, General / methods
  • Child
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / complications
  • Patient Selection
  • Postoperative Care / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Scoliosis / etiology
  • Scoliosis / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion*
  • Vital Capacity