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Types of Anesthesia
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What to Expect
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For Kids! What is Anesthesia?
Tips for Preparing a Child for Anesthesi ...
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Preparing for Surgery

What to Expect

Anesthesia Inside the Operating Room

If general anesthesia is used, the anesthesiologist will start transitioning your child from the normal awake state to the sleepy state of anesthesia. This is known as induction, which is usually done by either injecting medication through an IV or by breathing gases through a mask.

If, like many kids, your child is afraid of needles, the good news is that he or she may not have to get one while awake. Pediatric anesthesiologists often begin the induction process using a mask. The mask delivers medication to make kids sleepy and help them relax before and during the surgery. That way, they won't be awake when the IV is inserted for general anesthesia or when a shot is given to numb a certain part or area of the body for local or regional anesthesia.

When using general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will monitor your child's vital signs, continue to deliver anesthesia, and keep your child as comfortable as possible throughout the operation.

To help your child breathe and/or to help deliver general anesthesia during the operation, the anesthesiologist may use an endotracheal tube (a plastic tube that's placed into the windpipe through the mouth or nose) or laryngeal mask airway (LMA — a soft mask that fits into the back of the mouth).

Once the operation or procedure is over, the anesthesiologist will reverse the anesthesia process and help your child "wake up" (if your child received general anesthesia).

Anesthesia Outside the Operating Room

As medical technologies have advanced, so has the need for anesthesiologists to become involved in caring for children during radiological imaging or scanning procedures, gastrointestinal procedures, and other non-surgical treatments that require a cooperative and motionless patient. Covenant Children’s provides care for children undergoing these diagnostic tests and non-surgical procedures, tailoring the level of sedation or anesthesia to each patient's needs. Often families can be close, or nearby, when these tests and procedures are done since these are not sterile locations.

Anesthesia’s Role After Surgery – In the Recovery Room

The recovery room is where your child will be transferred after surgery, allowing them to wake fully from the effects of the anesthesia under the watchful eyes of skilled nurses, with anesthesiologists immediately available. While safety is the first priority during surgery, it is also true that the patient must be monitored and continually assessed while fully making a smooth and comfortable transition to an awakened state.

If your child had general anesthesia or was sedated, he/she might not fully awake right away — it may take a while and he or she may doze off for a bit. It usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour for kids to recover completely from general anesthesia. In some cases, this period may be a bit longer depending on medications given during or after surgery.

Although every person has a different experience, your child may feel groggy, confused, chilly, nauseated, scared, alarmed, or even sad as he or she wakes up. Depending on the procedure or surgery, your child may also have some pain and discomfort afterward, which the anesthesiologist can relieve with medications. The anesthesiologist evaluates when the patient has recovered enough to be sent home following outpatient surgery or has been stabilized sufficiently to be moved to a regular room in the hospital.

Before you leave the hospital, you'll receive instructions for further recuperation at home and for a follow-up visit with the surgeon. Be sure to talk to the surgeon and/or the anesthesiologist about what to expect after the surgery and how you can help your child be as comfortable as possible.

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