Hospital visits can be overwhelming for both you and your child. But as anesthesiologists, we are able to make this apprehensive time as safe and pain-free as possible.
Your child’s anesthesiologist will meet with both you and your child before surgery to ask some general health history questions and to make sure your child is ready physically for the procedure. It is important to let your doctor know of any health issues, including allergies, asthma, diabetes and any family history or previous experiences of difficulties with anesthetic medications. You and your child are welcome to ask any questions at this time or express any apprehension. Your doctor has your child’s best interests at heart, and will do everything possible to ensure a safe experience.
Anesthesia is given to children much the same way as adults. Some pediatric patients may be given a small sedative, or pre-medication, before surgery to calm any jittery nerves. Once in the surgery suite, your child may be put to sleep with a mask or through an intravenous injection. Your anesthesiologist will inform you what method would be best for your child based on many factors.
With general anesthesia, patients are free from pain and enter an unconsciousness state. During surgery, your anesthesiologist is constantly monitoring your child’s condition, minimizing any risk.
In some procedures, a regional anesthesia may be indicated instead of general anesthetic. Regional anesthesia provides the desired pain relief to a specific area of the body and allows the patient to remain conscious. The most common form of regional anesthesia for children is an epidural or caudal injection, similar to what mothers are given during childbirth.
After surgery, your child will be moved to the recovery room. Some children may recover from anesthesia quickly, while others may experience some grogginess and possible nausea. Some children may require additional pain management after surgery to ease any lingering discomfort. There are several methods for this, including injections, patient-controlled analgesia or regional techniques. Should you have any concerns during your child’s recovery process, please feel free to speak with your anesthesiologist or nurse.
While your child is at the hospital, the biggest help to your child and your doctors is you. It is important to prepare your child for the upcoming surgery, as well as the sights and sounds of the hospital or clinic as soon as you can. With an understanding of what’s ahead, children are often better patients for surgery and anesthesia. Honestly inform your child what they will experience, including some pain, and that you may not be able to be with them at all times. If mom and dad are calm, your child will be much more relaxed and better prepared physically for surgery.