Children’s National would like to prepare you and your child for your child’s upcoming anesthesia. We want to make the perioperative experience as pleasant as possible, and to assure you that your child’s safety is always our number one concern. Children’s National guarantees anesthesia administered by a fellowship-trained pediatric anesthesiologist, providing specialized care for your child. If your child is having surgery for a cardiac condition, Children’s National has a dedicated cardiac anesthesiology team who will care for your child. 

At the discretion of the anesthesiologist, you may be allowed to be present when your child begins receiving anesthesia. This is generally for patients over one year of age and less than 13 years of age, who cannot be adequately sedated in the preoperative area and who are undergoing non-emergent procedures. Additionally, a Child Life Specialist, nurse, or doctor must be available to escort you from the operating room (OR) to the waiting room in order for you to be present in the operating room. 

For children less than one year of age, the safest place to start anesthesia is in the operating room. Your anesthesiologist will gently take your child, go directly to the operating room, place monitors, and help your child breathe into an anesthetic mask. Young children will quickly fall asleep with this technique, usually in less than a minute. 

For children over 1 year of age, scheduled for elective surgery, in good health, and weighing less than 100 pounds, anesthesia will begin in one of two well- accepted ways: 

Option 1: Your child will drink a raspberry-flavored sedative called Midazolam. You may also hear your child’s surgical team call this medicine Versed. Within 10 minutes your child will become “relaxed.” At this time the child will be brought straight to the operating room and begin general anesthesia. Midazolam blurs the memory so your child probably will not recall leaving you or entering the operating room. 

Option 2: If your child does not receive Midazolam, they will use a mask to breathe anesthesia gasses and if needed, an IV will be placed after your child is asleep. Good scents, like bubble gum or strawberry, can be added to the mask to make it more enjoyable for your child to breathe through. In limited situations and at the discretion of the anesthesiologist, one parent may be present when your child falls asleep. 

If you are with your child as they fall asleep, you may notice the following signs as the anesthesia takes effect: faster breathing, moving their body around, or eyes rolling back. These are normal reactions to anesthesia and your child will be unaware of their surroundings or their actions during this time. 

For older or cooperative children, 
an intravenous catheter (IV) may be the best choice. A numbing patch will be placed on your child’s skin so he or she will have little to no pain when the needle is inserted. Once the IV is in place, “sleepy” medicine will be given. 

Children with special medical needs, such as heart, breathing, blood, or brain problems, may need di erent starting methods, which will be explained to you by your anesthesiologist. 

If your child has autism spectrum disorder, developmental delays, or other special needs, additional support can be provided for the surgical process by the surgical Child Life Specialist. The Child Life Specialist can be a liaison between you and the surgical team to help you and your child navigate the surgical process with as little stress or upset as possible. 

For female patients who are of menstruating age, a urine pregnancy test will be given prior to receiving anesthesia.

If you have any additional concerns, you may call our POCC office at 202-476-7622 and ask to speak to a nurse, or call our Anesthesiology office at 202-476-2025 and ask to speak with an anesthesiologist. On the day of surgery, you will meet your anesthesiologist and discuss the best way for your child to go to sleep. 

Children’s National guarantees anesthesia administered by a fellowship-trained pediatric anesthesiologist, providing specialized care for your child. 

Jeremy's Story

Children's National Health System

"Neither one of us had any clinical experience beyond the occasional "boo-boo" cared for by a Band-Aid and a kiss."

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