Perioperative respiratory adverse events cause more than three-quarters of all perioperative critical incidents in pediatric anesthesia and approximately half of anesthesia-related cardiac arrests. We can define seven main clinical types of perioperative respiratory adverse events: upper airway obstruction, laryngospasm, bronchospasm, severe persistent cough, apnea, stridor, and oxygen desaturation. Depending on the definitions used for preoperative respiratory adverse events and the cohort of children examined, the incidence varies between 8 and 21 %. This review discusses the recognition and treatment of perioperative respiratory adverse events. Furthermore, it provides guidance on how to identify children who are at increased risk for developing perioperative respiratory adverse events and how to tailor the perioperative anesthetic management for the individual child in order to minimize the risk of perioperative respiratory adverse events.


laryngospasm, bronchospasm, pediatric anesthesia, obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, critical incident

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