Preparing Your Child for Anesthesia

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Needing surgery is stressful enough, but when it’s your child that’s getting operated on, the concerns and questions can be overwhelming. Many parents also find that the most anxiety-provoking part of the procedure is in fact the anesthesia.

As a pediatric anesthesiologist, I often hear some common questions from parents. The first and most important question they usually ask is: who’s taking care of my child?

Pediatric anesthesiologists are doctors who seek out additional training beyond college, medical school, and residency in anesthesiology in order to specialize in the care of children from prematurity to adulthood who may need anesthesia. They oversee a team that can include medical students, doctors in training, nurse anesthetists and others to provide safe, effective care for your child.

Life unfortunately is not without risk, and while that does apply to pediatric anesthesia, the good news is that there has never been a safer time for your child to have a procedure done. The chances of anything major going wrong with anesthesia is dramatically much less than being in a serious car accident - about 1 in 50,000.

The process of going to sleep can be traumatic for both parents and children. Below are answers to some common concerns:

  1. Depending on your child’s age, he or she will be given a liquid medication that will make him or her very relaxed while waiting for surgery.
  2. Most of the time, your child can go to sleep before we have to poke them for an IV.
  3. Your child will at all times be directly monitored and cared for by the anesthesia team.
  4. Children are often very confused when they come out of anesthesia and may be sleepy or quite wild. This usually resolves within an hour.

Remember, just like any other doctor, you always have a right to request your pediatric anesthesiologist.

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