Anesthesia for Children
We recognize that scheduling a child for surgery is stressful for both patient 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.
Safety and Comfort
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 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 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.
Children who are highly anxious, however, may benefit from medication prior to the start of the anesthetic. These medications can often be given by mouth. The anesthesiologist will decide on the best medication after a discussion with you.
This video is for parents of children having surgery. With permission from Anesthesia staff, parents may go to the OR while the child begins the process. This video will educate and help decrease the anxiety of parents who go to the OR with their child. View the video (6 minutes)
Preparing your Child for Anesthesia
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. 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 go to the post anesthesia care unit immediately after surgery where they rejoin their parents. Each child wakes up from anesthesia differently, some wake up and are alert quickly, others are groggy for several hours and some wake up grumpy, irritable and crying.
However, infants and children generally wake up quicker than adults. Children are usually discharged once they are fully awake and meet all discharge criteria. Again, they can ride in the red wagon or be carried by you to the door.