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Intra-operative lidocaine in the prevention of vomiting after elective tonsillectomy in children: A randomised controlled trial

Echevarría, Ghislaine, C.; Altermatt, Fernando, R.; Paredes, Sebastian; Puga, Valentina; Auad, Hernán; Veloso, Ana, M.; Elgueta, María, F.

European Journal of Anaesthesiology: May 2018 - Volume 35 - Issue 5 - p 343–348
doi: 10.1097/EJA.0000000000000807

BACKGROUND Postoperative vomiting (POV) is a frequent complication of tonsillectomy in children. In adult patients undergoing abdominal surgeries, the use of intravenous lidocaine infusion can prevent POV.

OBJECTIVE To evaluate the anti-emetic effect of an intravenous lidocaine infusion used as an adjuvant to general anaesthesia, in children undergoing elective ear, nose and throat surgery.

DESIGN Double-blind, randomised, controlled study.

SETTING Hospital-based, single-centre study in Chile.

PATIENTS ASA I-II children, aged 2 to 12 years, scheduled for elective tonsillectomy.

INTERVENTION We standardised the induction and maintenance of anaesthesia. Patients were randomly allocated to lidocaine (1.5 mg kg−1 intravenous lidocaine over 5 min followed by 2 mg kg−1 h−1) or 0.9% saline (at the same rate and volume). Infusions were continued until the end of the surgery.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Presence of at least one episode of vomiting, retching or both in the first 24 h postoperatively (POV).

SECONDARY OUTCOMES Plasma concentrations of lidocaine and postoperative pain.

RESULTS Ninety-two children were enrolled. Primary outcome data were available for 91. In the Lidocaine group, 28 of 46 patients (60.8%) experienced POV, compared with 37 of 45 patients (82.2%) in the Saline group [difference in proportions 21.3% (95% confidence interval (CI) 2.8 to 38.8), P = 0.024]. The intention-to-treat analysis showed that when we assumed that the patient in the Saline group lost to follow-up did not have POV, the difference in proportions decreased to 19.6% (95% CI, 0.9 to 37.2), with an unadjusted odds ratio of 0.38 (95% CI, 0.15 to 0.97, P = 0.044). The odds of having POV were 62% less likely in those patients receiving lidocaine compared with patients in the Saline group. The mean lidocaine plasma concentration was 3.91 μg ml−1 (range: 0.87 to 4.88).

CONCLUSION Using an intravenous lidocaine infusion as an adjuvant to general anaesthesia decreased POV in children undergoing elective tonsillectomy.

TRIAL REGISTRATION Identifier: NCT01986309.

From the División de Anestesiología, Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile (GCE, SP, MFE, HA, AMV, FRA, VP) and Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative Care and Pain Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA (GCE)

Correspondence to Fernando R. Altermatt, MD, MHSc, MBA, Department of Anaesthesiology, School of Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Marcoleta 367, 8330024 Santiago, Chile Tel: +56 2 2354 3270; fax: +56 2 2632 7620; e-mail:

Published online 21 March 2018

© 2018 European Society of Anaesthesiology