Animal studies have documented that exposure of the developing brain to commonly used anesthetic agents induces neurotoxicity and late abnormal neurobehavioral functions as adults. Results from clinical studies have all been analyzed using existing data sets, and these studies produced inconsistent results. To provide more definitive evidence to address the clinical relevance of anesthetic neurotoxicity in children, an interdisciplinary team of investigators designed and developed the Pediatric Anesthesia NeuroDevelopment Assessment (PANDA) project. We present pilot study results in 28 sibling pairs recruited and tested at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and Children’s Hospital of Boston (CHB) for the PANDA project.
The PANDA project uses an ambidirectional cohort design. We performed prospective neuropsychological assessment in 28 exposed-unexposed sibling pairs from 6 to 11 years of age. The exposed siblings were ASA 1 or 2 and had received a single episode of anesthesia for inguinal hernia repair before the age of 36 months and the unexposed siblings had no anesthesia before the age of 36 months. All the sibling pairs were English speaking and were 36 weeks of gestational age or older. Each sibling pair underwent a direct testing using the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) and the NEuroPSYchological Assessment, second edition (NEPSY II), and the parents completed questionnaires related to behavior using CBCL and Conners rating. Data are presented as means±SD. We conducted descriptive analyses of the demographic data. We compared both the exposed and the unexposed sibling groups on WASI and NEPSY II, and total and T scores from CBCL and Conners rating were analyzed as continuous data using the paired t test between the two groups. A P<0.05 was considered significant.
After the Institutional Review Board approval for the study at both CUMC and CHB, the full PANDA study protocol was implemented to perform a pilot feasibility study. Our success rate was 96.7% in obtaining detailed medical and anesthesia records in our historical cohort. The scores for verbal IQ (exposed=106.1±16.3, unexposed=109.2±17.9), performance IQ (exposed=109.1±16.0, unexposed=113.9±15.9), and full IQ (exposed=108.2±14.0, unexposed=112.8±16.8) were comparable between the siblings. There were no differences between the two groups in T scores for any of the NEPSY II subdomains, CBCL, or Conners rating. An abstraction protocol with web-based electronic data capture forms also was developed in conjunction with the International Center for Health Outcomes and Innovation Research (InCHOIR).
The pilot study provided useful information for feasibility to recruit the sample size and to obtain relevant clinical data. For the final study protocol, both the neuropsychological battery and the age range for testing were revised. Our results confirmed the feasibility of our study approach and yielded pilot data from neuropsychological testing.