Pediatric Anesthesia

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Spectrum Medical Group anesthesiologists recognize that scheduling a child for surgery is stressful for both parent or guardian and child. If your child requires surgery and, therefore, anesthesia, we want you to feel as comfortable as possible about the care that your child will receive. Our most important concerns with your child are safety and comfort. Each year we care for over 4,000 children–22% of whom are 2 years of age or younger. At anytime, you should feel free to contact us to discuss any question or concern that you may have before or after the surgery.


For Your Information

You should begin preparing your child for a visit to the hospital well ahead of the day of surgery. Explaining to your child what to expect will reduce his or her fears. Your child will do best if you are calm and comfortable. You can reassure your child by telling him or her that he or she will be safe, that the doctors and nurses will be very nice to them, and that you will be with them while they are awake.

Thanks to modern advances in techniques and vital sign monitoring, anesthesia is very safe for children. The anesthesiologist will evaluate the age and maturity of your child in determining how he or she will go to sleep. Most young children can go to sleep by breathing anesthesia air mixed with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and oxygen through a small facemask. To make it a more pleasant experience, we frequently add fragrance to the mask.It is rare that a child would require a shot or IV while awake. Older children will often choose an IV anesthetic because it is a faster, easier way for them to go to sleep. If an older child is afraid of the “IV sleep,” or needles, then breathing anesthesia through a facemask often remains an option.

We are happy to meet with you and your child before the day of surgery. You can reach us by calling the hospital main number and then asking for the anesthesia office. One of the anesthesiologists will call you back to either answer your questions over the phone or arrange for a visit to the hospital. During the visit we will assess your child’s personality and his or her response to the hospital surroundings, staff, and doctors. Some children who have been to the hospital before or who have heard stories from parents or friends about operations may show interest in or anxiety about the anesthesia. We take all of this into consideration during the preoperative visit.

A vast majority of children do well with simple, soothing reassurance. Your child can ride to the operating room in our special red wagon, or you may choose to carry them and hold their hand as they drift off to sleep.

Children who are highly anxious, however, may benefit from medication prior to the start of the anesthetic. These medications can be given by mouth, through an IV, or by injection. The anesthesiologist will decide on the best medication after a discussion with you.

Children go to the post anesthesia care unit immediately after surgery where they rejoin their parents. After their recovery here, they are moved to the outpatient unit or upstairs to their room. Children are discharged once they are fully awake, are drinking fluids, and have no respiratory problems.

Each child wakes up from the anesthesia differently. Some children wake up and are alert quickly. Others are groggy for several hours afterward. Still others wake up grumpy and irritable. Infants and children generally wake up more quickly, have less postoperative pain, and are less disturbed by minor complications than adults. Nausea and vomiting can occur after any stressful operation but newer medicines often control this.