Children and Anesthesia


If your child is scheduled for surgery or a procedure involving anesthesia, you may be anxious about what will happen. Rest assured, a physician anesthesiologist will be there to keep your child safe and comfortable before, during and after the medical procedure.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Before surgery: You’ll meet with the physician anesthesiologist to discuss what type of anesthesia will be used and how it will be given. You’ll also have the chance to ask any questions about potential side effects and your child’s experience during surgery and recovery. The physician anesthesiologist will review your child’s health history and ask questions such as:

    • Does your child have allergies or asthma?
    • Has anyone in the family had a bad reaction to anesthesia?
    • Has your child had anesthesia before? If so, what was the experience like?
    Knowing more about your child’s health helps the physician anesthesiologist make decisions about your child’s care and ensures the best outcomes. Important preoperative directions will also be given to you about what food and liquid your child may consume before surgery and what medications should be taken.
  • During surgery: The physician anesthesiologist administers medications to make your child comfortable and pain-free by blocking feeling to the area of the surgery. Depending on what works best for your child, the medication will either be administered through an intravenous (IV) line or through a mask that lets your child inhale the medication. Your child will be closely monitored throughout the entire procedure for changes in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure, and, if needed, adjustments in the anesthesia will be made to keep your child safe and comfortable.
  • After surgery: It’s hard to predict how long your child will be unconscious following surgery. Some children regain consciousness and are alert right away and others will be groggy for a few hours after the procedure. Nausea and vomiting also sometimes occur as a side effect from anesthesia. Once the procedure is over, your child’s pain will continue to be controlled. The physician anesthesiologist will determine the most effective pain control method which might include oral medication, patient controlled analgesia through a pump, or injection of local anesthetics around nerves (an epidural or peripheral nerve block) to make your child’s recovery as comfortable as possible.

How Can a Parent Help

Surgery is never easy for a family, especially when the patient is a child. Asking questions and talking with your child’s care team, including the physician anesthesiologist, will help you learn more about what to expect and become more confident and relaxed. And remember, your calm and positive attitude can reduce your child’s anxiety and help them recover faster.