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Preparing your child for surgery and anesthesia

Having to have surgery, a medical procedure, or even diagnostic testing can be terrifying at any age, but it can be especially unnerving for children.

While it is entirely normal and reasonable for your child to get nervous, your presence, love, and support before and after the medical procedure will help them through their surgery and ensure they have a stronger recovery.

a father and nurse checking on a child in the hospital, recovering after surgery

In addition to your support, the right type of anesthesia will prevent your child from feeling pain during the procedure and may also help make your child more comfortable and less anxious after surgery.

Keep reading to learn more about what to expect when your child gets pediatric anesthesia before a medical procedure.

What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia is a medication given to patients before surgery or medical procedures to keep them still and prevent them from feeling any pain.

Pediatric anesthesiologists are trained in the unique needs and considerations involved in sedating and anesthetizing of children of all ages, from infants to teens. They use different techniques or therapies based on what will work best for managing your child’s pain.

Find out other ways you can help your child prepare for surgery

There are three common categories of anesthesia:

  • general
  • regional
  • local

Under general anesthesia, children are “asleep” or completely unconscious with a temporary loss of awareness and feelings of pain. Children receive general anesthesia medications by injection through an IV or by breathing an anesthetic gas through a mask.

With regional anesthesia, patients remain awake. An anesthesiologist numbs an entire region of a patient’s body (like an arm or leg) by injecting medication near major nerves.

When a patient gets local anesthesia, they remain awake, and only a small area of their body is numbed and insensitive to pain. This type of anesthesia is used for procedures like stitching up a deep cut, performing a dental procedure, doing a biopsy, or repairing a broken bone. It’s usually administered as a shot, spray, or ointment.

Is your child having a medical procedure soon?

Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions to help your child prepare before their surgery with short-term fasting. In most cases (and except for in emergencies), once it’s time to get ready for anesthesia, you will need to help your child follow these general preparation steps:

  • Children younger than one-year-old: No solid food for eight hours before getting anesthesia; no formula for six hours before getting anesthesia; no breast milk for four hours before getting anesthesia; and, no clear liquids for two hours before getting anesthesia
  • Children of all other ages: No solid food for eight hours before getting anesthesia; no clear liquids (including foods like popsicles) for two hours before getting anesthesia

Your child’s anesthesiologist may also ask that you stop some of your child’s medications on the day or day before anesthesia and surgery. Be sure to follow-up with them to get specific instructions to avoid complications.

Anesthesia for pediatric surgery in north-central Indiana

When you select the pediatric surgical team at Logansport Memorial Hospital, rest assured that your child will be in good hands at our convenient, close-to-home hospital.

Our highly-skilled surgery staff is made up of caring and experienced physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, technicians, and surgeons who are dedicated to ensuring your child’s safety, comfort, and quick recovery.

Learn more about our general surgery staff

TOPICS: General surgery