Frequently Asked Questions
What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia is a kind of medicine that puts all or parts of the body to sleep. It prevents pain or other feelings during surgery. It may be a shot (injection) or gases that are inhaled (breathed). The kind of anesthesia will be decided by your child’s anesthesiologist.
Who is an anesthesiologist?
An anesthesiologist is a doctor who specializes in giving and managing anesthesia—the medicines that numb an area of the body or help your child fall and stay asleep.
A member of the Children’s Anesthesia team will be with your child throughout the surgery and is trained to handle changes in:
- Blood pressure
- Heart action
- Unexpected events
At Children's, a pediatric-trained team of board-certified anesthesiologists and staff are involved in every stage of your child’s care. Meet the pediatric anesthesiologists at Children's.
Pediatric anesthesiologists have had:
- At least four years of medical school
- One year of internship and three years of residency in anesthesiology
- Additional specialty training in pediatric anesthesiology
- Certification from the American Board of Anesthesiologists
What are the types of anesthesia?
The type and amount of anesthesia is specific to your child’s needs and will depend on many factors, including age and weight, the type and area of the surgery, any allergies and the child’s condition. There are three types of anesthesia:
- General anesthesia—Makes the child fall asleep and stay asleep during the surgery. General anesthesia can be given through an intravenous (also called an IV, which uses a needle stick into a vein, usually in the arm) tube or by breathing gases.
- Regional anesthesia—Numbs large areas of the body. Regional anesthesia is used to make a person more comfortable during and after the surgery. Regional and general anesthesia is often combined.
- Local anesthesia—Numbs a small part of the body. Local anesthesia lasts for a short time and is used for minor surgeries.
Is there a difference between anesthesia for adults and children?
Yes, children react differently to anesthesia. Doctors must give anesthesia based on the child’s weight, vital signs and medical history. It is important that the doctor gets an exact medical history so he can give the anesthesia correctly.
What are the side effects?
Depending on your child’s age, side effects will change. After surgery, your child may be confused. Nausea (sick stomach) also can happen, and he may need medicine to control it. If your child got sick to his stomach last time he had anesthesia, tell the anesthesiologist. Some other common side effects are:
- Nausea or vomiting, which can be lessened with medicine
- Sore throat (if a tube was used to give the anesthesia or help with breathing)
Is anesthesia safe?
Anesthesia today is very safe. In rare cases, anesthesia can cause issues. Anesthesia can slow breathing, heart action and blood pressure. A pediatric anesthesiologist is specially trained to lessen these effects.
The risks depend on the kind of procedure, the condition and the type of anesthesia used. Talk to your doctor, surgeon and anesthesiologist about your worries.
We collect medical details about your child before surgery to help avoid issues. At Children’s, online pre-anesthesia forms must be filled out by a parent or guardian before surgery. It is important to answer the questions honestly and completely.
Some of the questions are:
- Your child’s current and past health
- Any medicines (prescription and over-the-counter), supplements or herbal remedies your child is taking
- Allergies (especially to foods, medications or latex) your child may have
- Earlier reactions you or any family member had to anesthesia
Can my child eat before surgery?
A nurse will call you one to two days before the surgery to give you instructions about when your child must stop eating and what foods are allowed. Your child will not be able to eat or drink hours before (or in some cases the day of) the surgery.
This means that no solid foods are allowed after a certain time before surgery, such as:
- Orange juice
If you do not follow these rules, it could put your child’s health at risk. Your child’s surgery will be rescheduled if you do not follow these rules.
How long will my child be asleep after surgery?
Some children may be fully alert in the recovery room. Others may be groggy for hours after surgery. If you have any questions, ask your child’s anesthesiologist.
What should I do after my child has anesthesia?
Our surgical staff will talk with you about how to care for your child. Here are some general rules:
Caring for your child after sedation
—Sedation is a milder form of anesthesia that will make your child feel calm or sleepy.
What can I do to help my child prepare for surgery?