A collaborative retrospective study undertaken to investigate cardiac arrest related to pediatric anesthesia in seven institutions between 1960 and 1972 showed 73 instances in which anesthesia was thought to have been either directly responsible or had played an important contributing role. About two thirds of these patients were successfully resuscitated. Cases were found to fit into one of two major categories: cardiovascular and respiratory. Among cardiovascular factors, blood loss, preoperative anemia, inappropriate administration of succinylcholine, and accidental administration of potassium were important contributing causes. Respiratory factors included failure to maintain a patent airway and ventilatory problems. In retrospect, most of these accidents were preventable. Such information should indicate where research emphasis needs to be placed and that our current methods of teaching and training need to be reevaluated.
(JAMA 233:238-241, 1975)