Background: Caudal blockade is a common technique for pediatric postoperative analgesia. While safe and effective, caudal opioids are associated with troublesome side effects. Caudal clonidine may offer significant analgesic benefits. We prospectively compared the analgesic, side effect, and rehabilitation profiles of caudal clonidine, hydromorphone, or morphine in a group of 60 pediatric patients undergoing ureteral reimplantation.
Methods: Patients aged 6 mo to 6 yr were evenly and randomly enrolled in a double-blind manner. Patients received a single caudal dose of 2 mcg/kg of clonidine, 10 mcg/kg of hydromorphone, or 50 mcg/kg of morphine, combined with 1.0 mL/kg of 0.2% ropivacaine with epinephrine. After sevoflurane in oxygen/air anesthesia, all subjects received proxy nurse-controlled analgesia with morphine. Postoperative pain intensity, use of IV morphine, and side effects were assessed during the first 24 h. Oral intake and discharge home were recorded.
Results: Caudal clonidine resulted in less postoperative nausea and vomiting (P = 0.01) and pruritus (P = 0.007) than did caudal hydromorphone or caudal morphine. Caudal morphine produced more sustained initial analgesia than did caudal clonidine (P = 0.02). No difference was observed in pain scores, total morphine use, time to first oral intake or discharge home. No postoperative respiratory depression, excessive sedation, hypotension, or bradycardia was identified.
Conclusions: Although caudal morphine may result in more sustained initial analgesia, caudal clonidine combined with nurse-controlled analgesia appears to provide comparable analgesia with fewer side effects. Based on these results, the use of caudal clonidine may be superior to caudal opioids after pediatric ureteral reimplantation.