An internationally recognised anaesthetist has been appointed the inaugural Woolworths Chair in Paediatric Anaesthesiology at The University of Western Australia.
UWA Winthrop Professor Britta Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg was published in the medical journal The Lancet last week as the lead author of a study which found a link between respiratory risk factors and respiratory adverse events before, during and after surgery in children.
A team of international researchers analysed the results of a pre-anaesthetic questionnaire as well as records of anaesthesia management and time in the recovery room directly after surgery.
The study involved 9,297 children who received general anaesthesia for surgical or medical interventions at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children between February 2007 and January 2008.
A positive respiratory history, such as a recent cold, wheezing during exercise, wheezing more than three times in the past 12 months, nocturnal dry cough and eczema as well as a family history of asthma, rhinitis, eczema and exposure to tobacco smoke were associated with an increased risk of respiratory side-effects.
Professor Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg, who works in the UWA School of Medicine and Pharmacology and as a paediatric anaesthetist at PMH, said the questionnaire could be used at the pre-anaesthetic assessment to identify children at high risk of respiratory complications following surgery.
"Those children who are at risk will then benefit from specifically targeted anaesthesia management," she said.
A member of the division of clinical sciences at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Professor Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg has published more than 50 peer-reviewed original research articles in highly ranked international journals and won several national and international research prizes.
Her current research focuses on the prediction and prevention of respiratory complications in children, one of the main causes of life-threatening illness and death in paediatric anaesthesia.