Anesthesia for Pediatric Patients
At Vituity, our anesthesiologists are specifically trained and board-certified to care for babies, children, and teens. We serve pediatric patients in the operating room and throughout the hospital, including the MRI/CT and intensive care units.
Frequently Asked Questions About Anesthesia for Pediatric Patients
All of our anesthesiologists are qualified and comfortable taking care of pediatric patients. However, for very young children, children with severe illnesses, or children undergoing major surgery, we typically assign a member of our pediatric anesthesiology team to the case.
The anesthesiologist will make a reasonable attempt to contact you the night before the surgery or procedure to discuss anesthesia for your child. Please make certain your surgeon has the correct phone numbers so that we can reach you. And you can always call our office to speak directly to an anesthesiologist about your child's care.
Modern anesthesia in children is very safe overall. While there are specific issues related to pediatric anesthesia, the chance of a major problem is very small. The primary risk factors revolve around the child's overall health status, as well as the type of surgery they are undergoing. The highest risk applies to our smallest patients, namely, premature neonates.
A recent topic of discussion has revolved around whether anesthetic exposure in young children effects their neurologic development later in life. This is a very complex question with no easy answers. Until there is more definitive scientific evidence, we hesitate to have a generalized answer.
It is important to note that millions of anesthetics have been administered to millions of children throughout the history of modern medicine without any specific developmental problems being identified. We welcome any questions you may have on the topic in reference to the child’s specific circumstances.
Your anesthesiologist will discuss with you how long your child should fast before surgery, as these can vary somewhat based on the specific circumstances. A very safe and conservative rule of thumb is to allow no solid food or drink for six hours prior to the procedure. Breast milk is usually acceptable until four hours prior, and clear liquids until two hours prior. Again, your anesthesiologist may adjust these numbers based on specific circumstances.
Once the anesthetic has sufficiently subsided, your child will be allowed to have clear liquids and advance to full feeds as tolerated. Keep in mind that some surgical procedures may require a longer fasting period afterwards. You will get more specific directions at the time of discharge depending on the surgery or procedure.
Usually pediatric patients are sedated prior to entering the operating room. The sedative can be in the form of syrup, pill, nose drops, intramuscular injection, or intravenous injection depending on your child and the situation. The oral syrup is by far the most common form.
Your anesthesiologist will provide you with specific information about sedative options for your child. Typically, most children will be sedated with oral medication in the preoperative area, and then "put to sleep" by breathing medication through a facemask. Older children can often decide on their own whether they’d like to go to sleep by “breathing through a mask” versus an IV being placed preoperatively.
Parents are usually with their child both in the preoperative holding unit and in the anesthesia recovery unit. However, for safety reasons, we rarely allow parents into the operating room. We occasionally make exceptions to this rule based on specific circumstances.
After the procedure, parents will be allowed to see their child in the anesthesia recovery unit as soon as possible at the discretion of the recovery room nurse.
Yes. As with adult patients, it is our group policy to never leave the patient without an anesthesiologist during any surgery or procedure where an anesthetic is being administered.
The aftereffects of anesthetics can vary for many reasons. However, your child will only be discharged from the recovery unit to home or to their hospital room when it is safe. Some children will be drowsy after their surgery, but most anesthetics will wear off after a few hours. Another common cause of "sleepiness" after surgery is pain medication, which frequently makes patients drowsy.
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