Peri-operative steroid management in the paediatric population

Chloe Heath, Aris Siafarikas, Aine Sommerfield, Britta S. von Ungern-Sternberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Patients with adrenal insufficiency are at risk of adrenal crisis, a potentially life-threatening emergency in the peri-operative period due to their attenuated ability to mount a cortisol response. There is a lack of standardization regarding peri-operative stress-dose glucocorticoids in paediatric clinical practice with the absence of agreed protocols. For the individual patient, the risk of adrenal crisis must be weighed against the potential adverse clinical outcomes associated with unnecessary or supra-physiologic glucocorticoid dosing in susceptible patients. Specific clinical concerns in the paediatric population include osteopenia, growth restriction and increased risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood. This review aimed to identify and evaluate available literature in the field of peri-operative stress-dose glucocorticoids. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted to construct a narrative review. Results: The outcome of this review identified that paediatric patients, unlike adults, do not show a graded response to surgical stress with implications for glucocorticoid stress dose regimens for general anaesthesia and less invasive surgical procedures. The studies highlight a lack of information on physiological steroid responses to stress situations and differences in the approach to glucocorticoid replacement strategies in the paediatric population. Conclusion: The review identified there is a lack of high-quality paediatric-specific studies evaluating appropriate stress-dose glucocorticoid regimens in paediatric patients with or at risk of adrenal insufficiency. Further research is needed to establish clear evidence-based clinical guidelines for paediatric peri-operative practice regarding steroid stress dosing in adrenal insufficiency. Current knowledge would suggest that a balanced view of risks and benefits should be taken appropriate to the clinical context, to dictate peri-operative stress-dose glucocorticoids use that permits safe perioperative management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1194
Number of pages8
JournalACTA Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


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