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Preparing Your Child for Anesthesia

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Requiring surgery is stressful enough, but when it’s your child that needs an operation, 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 training in adult anesthesiology in order to specialize in the care of children from prematurity to young 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. Together this team works side by side to ensure the safest delivery of care for your loved one.

While administering anesthesia to the youngest patients is not without risk, the good news is that there has never been a safer time for your child to have a procedure done. The chances of a major adverse event occurring during anesthesia is dramatically much less than being in a serious car accident - about 1 in 50,000.

The process of undergoing anesthesia for the first time can be anxiety-inducing 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 place 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.

If you know a particular pediatric anesthesiologist who can make this stressful time a more pleasant experience for you, you may request that she lead your anesthesia team on your day of surgery. Just mention it to your surgery clinic at the time of your visit and they will help facilitate this assignment with the anesthesiology department.

For more information on Ochsner Hospital for Children's pediatric anesthesiologists, please click here.

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