[Anaesthetic agents in children: risk or benefit?].
The practice of paediatric anaesthesia has changed during the last 25 years, with a noticeable reduction of mortality and serious morbidity. This improvement results in part from the use of new anaesthetic agents which large therapeutic interval regarding cardiovascular effects. Parallel to this advance and following experimental or clinical studies in neurosciences, some new concerns have emerged regarding short and long time consequences of anaesthesia. Indeed, postoperative hyperalgesia due to opioids, emergence agitation and postoperative maladaptive behavioural changes are widely described in children, in the same way the potential epileptogenic effect of sevoflurane is demonstrated. Thus the hypothetical cerebral toxicity leads us to reconsider our practice. Basically, monitoring of cerebral cortical effects of hypnotics is now possible from automated devices based on EEG, allowing us to control the administration of hypnotic agents. The therapeutic interval of these agents, previously determined between movement at incision and deleterious cardiovascular effect, may be revisited with a cerebral approach, with the risk of memorisation for the lower limit and the risk of cerebral over dosage for the upper limit. Lastly, further experimental and clinical studies are required to analyse the effects of the anaesthetic agents on the brain of the neonate, and the interest of the cerebral monitoring in this population.
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