Frequency of anesthetic cardiac arrests in infants: effect of pediatric anesthesiologists

J Clin Anesth. 1991 Nov-Dec;3(6):433-7. doi: 10.1016/0952-8180(91)90088-5.


Study objective: To determine whether the presence of pediatric anesthesiologists decreases the frequency of anesthetic-related cardiac arrests in infants (children who are 1 year of age or younger).

Design: A comparative retrospective study of anesthetics and cardiac arrests during a 7-year period.

Setting: The main operating room (OR) suite of a large university hospital.

Patients: All patients age 1 year or less undergoing surgical anesthesia from July 1983 through March 1990.

Interventions: Computerized anesthetic and operative patients records were queried for patient age, ASA physical status, body weight, surgical procedure, intraoperative complications, and the identity of the attending anesthesiologist. In each case, it was determined whether a pediatric anesthesiologist was in attendance and whether a cardiac arrest due to anesthesia occurred. Pediatric anesthesiologists were identified as those with pediatric fellowship training or the equivalent. The study population was divided into two groups: (1) the pediatric anesthesiologist group, with 2,310 patients whose anesthetics were supervised by pediatric anesthesiologists; (2) the nonpediatric anesthesiologist group, with 2,033 patients.

Measurements and main results: Mean age and weight were comparable in the two groups, and the distribution of physical status did not differ. No anesthesia-related cardiac arrests occurred in the pediatric anesthesiologist group; four anesthetic cardiac arrests occurred in the nonpediatric anesthesiologist group, for a frequency of 19.7 per 10,000 anesthetics. This difference between provider groups is significant (Fisher's exact probability test, p = 0.048).

Conclusions: The results suggest that the use of pediatric anesthesiologists for all infants 1 year of age or younger might decrease anesthetic morbidity in this age-group.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesia Department, Hospital
  • Anesthesia, Inhalation / adverse effects
  • Anesthesiology* / education
  • Halothane / adverse effects
  • Heart Arrest / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Isoflurane / adverse effects
  • Pediatrics* / education
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Virginia / epidemiology
  • Workforce


  • Isoflurane
  • Halothane