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Increased Postoperative Arterial Blood Pressure Stability with Continuous Epidural Infusion of Clonidine in Children

G. Bergendahl, H. T.; Lonnqvist, P. A.; De Negri, P.; Ivani, G.; Eksborg, S.

doi: 10.1213/00000539-200210000-00068
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Letters & Announcements

Departments of Paediatric Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, KS/Astrid Lindgrens Children’s Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

IRCCS H “Case Sollievo della Sofferenza”, S. Giovanni Rotondo (FG), Italy

“Regina Margherita” Children’s Hospital, Turin, Italy

Hospital Pharmacy, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

To the Editor:

We want to add additional information to our previous study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia (1). This information concerns the variability of postoperative hemodynamic variables associated with continuous postoperative epidural infusion of clonidine and ropivacaine in children.

Following Ethical Committee approval and written parental informed consent, 60 boys (ASA physical status 1–2) aged 1–4 yr undergoing hypospadias repair were randomized to receive one of the following four postoperative epidural infusions after the induction of a standardized isoflurane based anesthetic: Group R: plain ropivacaine 0.1%, 0.2 mg kg−1h−1; Group RC1: ropivacaine 0.08% 0.16 mg kg−1 h−1 + clonidine 0.04 μg −1 h−1; Group RC2: ropivacaine 0.08% 0.16 mg kg−1 h−1 + clonidine 0.08 mg kg−1 h−1; or Group RC3: ropivacaine 0.08% 0.16 mg kg−1 h−1, + clonidine 0.12 μg kg−1 h−1. Further details are given in the original article (1).

No difference in overall heart rate or arterial blood pressure levels could be detected between the four study groups during the 48-h observation period. However, the systolic blood pressure variability, measured as the coefficient of variation (CV%) as described by Ghignone et al. (2) was significantly lower than in groups RC2 and RC3 compared with the other two groups (P < 0.001) (Table 1) (Fig. 1). No such difference was observed regarding heart rate variability (Table 1).

Table 1

Table 1

Figure 1

Figure 1

The improved arterial blood pressure stability we observed associated with epidural clonidine administration is most likely explained by two interacting mechanisms. First, systemic uptake of clonidine from the epidural space into the systemic circulation will cause secondary interactions with centers in the brain stem (e.g., locus coeruleus and the vasomotor center) that affect central sympathetic discharge. Second, epidural clonidine in the dose range of 0.08–0.12 μg −1 h−1 is associated with improved postoperative pain relief (1). A reduced nociceptive input is likely to result in reduced blood pressure variability due to a reduction of the pain-generated stress response. However, if improved pain relief would be the main mechanism behind the observed reduction of blood pressure variability, then it is difficult to explain why heart rate variability did not show a similar pattern.

Although strict cardiovascular control might not be essential after urogenital surgery in children, improved hemodynamic stability could be of potential benefit in other clinical situations (e.g., after major thoracic or abdominal surgery). We have previously shown that the bioavailability of clonidine is not restricted by epidural administration (3). Thus, one could postulate a similar hemodynamic effect if clonidine instead was administered as an intravenous infusion. Intravenous administration of clonidine would obviously make this property of clonidine useful in situations where epidural administration of clonidine is not an option (i.e., neurosurgery).

H. T. G. Bergendahl

P. A. Lonnqvist

P. De Negri

G. Ivani

S. Eksborg

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1. De Negri P, Ivani G, Visconti C, et al. The dose-response relationship for clonidine added to a postoperative continuous epidural infusion of ropivacaine in children. Anesth Analg 2001; 93: 71–6.
2. Ghignone M, Noe C, Calvillo O, Quintin L. Anesthesia for ophthalmic surgery in the elderly: the effects of clonidine on intraocular pressure, perioperative hemodynamics, and anesthetic requirement. Anesthesiology 1988; 68: 707–16.
3. Ivani G, Bergendahl HT, Lampugnani E, et al. Plasma levels of clonidine following epidural bolus injection in children. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand 1998;42:306–311. [Please note printing error in this publication; correct epidural clonidine dose is 2 μg/kg−1 h−1.]
© 2002 International Anesthesia Research Society