Spinal anesthesia in pediatric patients

Minerva Anestesiol. 2012 Jan;78(1):78-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2011.03769.x. Epub 2011 Dec 28.


Spinal anesthesia (SA) in pediatrics began to be used in the late nineteenth century in multiple procedures, with priority for high-risk and former preterm infants, for its suggested protective role compared to the development of postoperative apnea with general anesthesia (GA). In children, higher doses of local anesthetics are required with a shorter duration of action and a greater hemodynamic stability compared to adults. The puncture must be performed in the L4-L5 or L5-S1 spaces to prevent spinal injuries. The practice of SA in pediatric patients requires skill and experience; failure rates of up to 28% have been reported. The drugs most commonly used for SA are tetracaine and bupivacaine alone or with adjuvants. SA complications are rare and often without consequences, except for postdural puncture headaches and backaches. Although SA is today considered safe and effective for pediatric patients, it remains relatively underutilized compared to GA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Anesthesia, Spinal / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia, Spinal / methods*
  • Anesthetics / administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Contraindications
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology
  • Spinal Cord / growth & development
  • Subarachnoid Space


  • Anesthetics