July 7, 2009

Hormone eases kid’s post-surgery distress

The hormone melatonin helped ease post-surgery distress in children, U.S. anesthesiologists found.

The study, published in the journal Anesthesiology, found oral treatment with melatonin before surgery significantly reduced the occurrence of emergence delirium in children.

Emergence delirium -- extreme distress that includes crying and thrashing that may require restraints when waking up from anesthesia -- affects up to 20 percent of children undergoing surgery. It can also lead to secondary outcomes -- behavioral changes such as nightmares, bed wetting and separation anxiety.

The study group was made up of 148 children between the ages of 2-8 due to undergo outpatient surgery under general anesthesia. The children were randomly assigned to receive either melatonin or the usual presurgery medication midazolam before surgery. Researchers measured anxiety levels and the incidence of emergence delirium.

Results indicated that preoperative melatonin administration did not effectively reduce anxiety levels, study lead author Dr. Zeev Kain of the University of California- Irvine School of Medicine said in a statement.

However, it was found that melatonin significantly reduced the incidence of emergence delirium in these children.