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.

Unless your child is younger than 12 months of age, is a teenager, is very ill, or at the discretion of the anesthesiologist, you may accompany your child to an induction room, where your child will receive anesthesia.

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. 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: In the Induction Room, your child will go to sleep by breathing a mixture of oxygen and anesthetic vapor through an anesthetic mask. Candy flavors are added to the mixture to make it more appealing. You will be there to assist, hold, and comfort them. In the 3 to 4 minutes it takes for the anesthetic to work, it is normal for children to breathe fast, move around, and be unaware of their actions.

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 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 needs, such as heart, breathing, or brain problems, may need different starting methods, which will be explained to you by your anesthesiologist.

If you have any additional concerns, you may call our Anesthesiology office (202) 476-2025 and ask to speak with an anesthesiologist. The day of surgery, you will meet your anesthesiologist and discuss the best way for your child to go to sleep. “Infants and young children under one year of age should be offered clear liquids up to two hours prior to the time of scheduled surgery.”

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

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