Frequently Asked Questions About Pediatric Anesthesia

Is anesthesia safe for my child?

Anesthesia is very safe today. The highly-trained providers caring for your child combined with the safety profile of the medications and monitoring capabilities have significantly reduced the risk of anesthesia. The anesthesiologist will discuss with you your child’s medical history, your family’s anesthesia history, and any other concerns you might have before your child’s surgery.

Who will be my child’s anesthesia team?

Your child’s anesthesia team includes two experienced anesthesia providers, an anesthesiologist and a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). The team’s number one priority is to keep your child safe. During surgery, your child’s heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen level are monitored continuously. At least one member of the anesthesia team is with your child at all times.

How will my child receive anesthesia?

Most children will receive general anesthesia, which means your child will be completely asleep during surgery. General anesthesia can be given in two ways, either by breathing anesthetic gases from a mask that is placed gently over your child’s nose and mouth or by receiving anesthesia medication intravenously (IV). Both methods are safe and effective. The anesthesiologist will determine which way is best for your child. A breathing device will be placed to protect his/her airway and will remain until the surgery is completed. The device will be removed prior to your child waking up.

What is an IV?

An IV is a small plastic tube inserted into a vein. It is used to deliver fluids and/or medications. If an IV is placed preoperatively, staff may use a special numbing medicine as well as distraction techniques to minimize the discomfort. Sometimes, a child will receive an IV in the operating room once they are asleep.

Can my child receive medication if they are feeling anxious?

If you have concerns about your child’s level of anxiety, you will have an opportunity to discuss medication options with the anesthesiologist on the day of surgery.

Can I go with my child to the operating room?

Currently, we evaluate this on a case-by-case basis. We will make every effort for one parent to be present with their child until they are asleep, at which point you will be escorted out of the operating room and back to the waiting area. In emergent cases, or if deemed necessary for any reason, you may be asked to remain in the waiting area. You will join your child in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) once he/she is awake. Please note: women who are pregnant are not permitted in the operating room.

How will my child feel after having anesthesia?

Children are often confused and/or agitated when they first wake up from anesthesia. Some children experience nausea and vomiting, though in most cases your child will have received medication to try to prevent this. How soon a child awakens in the recovery room depends on the anesthesia medications that are used during surgery. Some children will sleep for a while in the recovery room, while others awake soon upon arrival.

Additional Information

  • Notify the surgeon prior to your child’s surgery date if he/she is experiencing any cold symptoms, fever or generally feeling unwell. If your child takes any daily medications, check with the surgeon to see if these medications should be given on the day of surgery.
  • Before going home, the nurse will review post-operative instructions on how to care of your child.
  • It is recommended to slowly advance your child’s diet as tolerated throughout the day.

Fasting Guidelines for Surgery

  • Clear Liquids — Stop 2 hours prior to surgery
  • Breast Milk — Stop 4 hours prior to surgery
  • Infant Formula — Stop 6 hours prior to surgery
  • Solid Food — Stop 8 hours prior to surgery

Questions? Please call surgical day care at 978-287-3165.