Clonidine in pediatric anesthesia: the new panacea or a drug still looking for an indication?


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Clonidine, an α2-receptor agonist is a widely used drug in pediatrics with a large scope of indications ranging from prevention of postoperative emergence agitation, analgesia, anxiolysis, sedation, weaning to shivering. In the era of 'opioid-free' medicine with much attention be directed toward increasing problems with opioid use, clonidine due to its global availability, low cost and safety profile has become an even more interesting option.

RECENT FINDINGS: Increasing evidence from randomised clinical trials support the use of clonidine in healthy children in the perioperative setting. Clonidine appears to significantly reduce postoperative emergence agitation, opioid consumption, shivering, nausea and vomiting. In addition, emerging evidence support the use of clonidine for sedation of critically ill children in ICUs. In this review, the current evidence for clonidine in pediatrics is described and analyzed including a meta-analysis for prevention of emergence agitation.

SUMMARY: Clonidine appears a safe and beneficial drug with moderate to high-quality evidence supporting its use in pediatric anesthesia. However, for some indications and populations such as children younger than 12 months old and those with hemodynamic instability, there is an urgent need for high-quality trials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Opinion in Anaesthesiology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)327-333
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Adrenergic alpha-2 Receptor Agonists/administration & dosage
  • Age Factors
  • Anesthesia/adverse effects
  • Child
  • Clonidine/administration & dosage
  • Emergence Delirium/etiology
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting/etiology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Shivering/drug effects


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