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Background: Studies that have attempted to define the incidence of aspiration or pulmonary complications during sedation/anesthesia of children with respect to nil per os (NPO) status or other factors are difficult because of the relatively infrequent rate of these complications.

Methods: The Pediatric Sedation Research Consortium consists of 42 participating institutions with elective sedation services that submit consecutive patient encounter information to a central database. The authors evaluated aspiration episodes and a combined outcome of major adverse events (defined as aspiration, death, cardiac arrest, or unplanned hospital admission) with respect to NPO status, American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status, age, propofol use, procedure types, and urgency of the procedure.

Results: A total of 139,142 procedural sedation/anesthesia encounters were collected between September 2, 2007 and November 9, 2011. There were 0 deaths, 10 aspirations, and 75 major complications. NPO status was known for 107,947 patients, of whom 25,401 (23.5 %) were not NPO. Aspiration occurred in 8 of 82,546 (0.97 events per 10,000) versus 2 of 25,401 (0.79 events per 10,000) patients who were NPO and not NPO, respectively (odds ratio, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.08 to 4.08; P = 0.79). Major complications occurred in 46 of 82,546 (5.57 events per 10,000) versus 15 of 25,401 (5.91 events per 10,000) (odds ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.55 to 1.93; P = 0.88). Multivariate adjustment did not appreciably impact the effect of NPO status.

Conclusions: The analysis suggests that aspiration is uncommon. NPO status for liquids and solids is not an independent predictor of major complications or aspiration in this sedation/anesthesia data set.

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