Background: Unplanned admissions to the intensive care unit may result from unexpected events related to anesthesia, and are recommended by some healthcare organizations as a clinical indicator. The rate of anesthesia-related unplanned admissions in adults ranges between 0.04% and 0.45% of procedures. However, there is a paucity of data relating to the rate in children.Methods: Admissions to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) occurring within 24 h of anesthesia were identified through retrospective chart review. Only those admissions from a complication of anesthesia were included and not those from communication errors or surgical problems. The aim was to determine the rate of unplanned admissions, as well as the causes and management of this group of unplanned admissions.Results: Seventy-six children requiring admission to the PICU were identified from 55196 procedures during the 6-year study period. The rate of unplanned admission was 0.14% of procedures. A total of 47% of these admissions were related to airway problems and 68% of children requiring admission were aged less than 5 years. Most children required only observation after their admission.Conclusions: We found the unplanned admission rate to the PICU in our hospital population to be similar to that reported for adults, and is a relatively rare event in pediatric anesthesia. Most admissions were for children aged less than 5 years and were as a result of airway problems. Most cases were deemed potentially predictable.