Purpose: To investigate the effects of topical application of ophthalmic 5% povidone-iodine eye drops, which has been reported to cause apnea in spontaneously breathing children during general anesthesia.
Methods: The authors conducted a randomized, controlled, single-blinded study comparing the effect of balanced salt solution eye drops and povidone-iodine eye drops on respiration in spontaneously breathing children during general anesthesia with sevoflurane via a laryngeal mask airway. Fifty patients received balanced salt solution eye drops and 50 patients received 5% povidone-iodine eye drops.
Results: None of the control patients had a significant change in respiration. Thirty of the 50 (60%) povidone-iodine patients had a slowing of respiration within the first 6 breaths after eye drop instillation (P < .001). The median time of respiratory pause in those 30 patients was 18.5 seconds (range: 4.36 to 96.2 seconds). Among the povidone-iodine patients, children with a history of a prior tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy and/or bilateral myringotomy had a 7.2 times greater chance of experiencing a change in respiration after instillation of the povidone-iodine eye drops.
Conclusions: Topical application of 5% povidone-iodine eye drops causes a slowing and pause in spontaneous ventilation in a majority of children prior to strabismus surgery. This may represent activation of the diving reflex. [J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus. 2019;56(6):378-382.].
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