Most of the time, anesthesia can be induced safely and quickly in children with the inhalation of gas anesthetics through a mask that fits over the mouth and nose of the child. If an IV is necessary for the surgery or for postoperative care, gas anesthesia allows for placement of the intravenous line after the child is asleep. If the child has unusual medical problems or requires emergency surgery, the IV may need to be placed before the child is asleep.
Some of the anesthesiologists medicate young children with a sedative that the child drinks 20 to 30 minutes before the surgery. The purpose of the sedative is to make the child less apprehensive and more tolerant of the mask used to deliver the anesthesia gas. Usually the sedative causes amnesia which helps reduce anxiety if the child has to return to operating room in the future. If the anesthesiologist ordered a sedative, your child will become drowsy 10 minutes or so after ingestion. Precautions must be taken so the child will not injure himself while he is in this altered state. The rails on the bed must remain up and it is best to hold the child or keep a hand on her so she does not accidentally fall or hit her head.
We recommend that you allow us to take your child back to the operating room without you. We need to focus our attention on your child. The presence of extra people who are not familiar with the operating room can be a distraction to those who care for your child. Most children who experience separation anxiety become calm after they are out of sight of the parents and are distracted by our pleasant staff who go out of their way to comfort your child. If you do come back to the operating room, please follow instructions the staff give you and return to the waiting area promptly when asked.
Once the child is in the operating room, a mask will be introduced to the child and he will breath a somewhat sweet smelling gas that induces anesthesia in ten to thirty seconds. After the child is asleep, depending on the type of surgery, an IV may be placed. Once the IV is placed, a breathing tube, if needed, will be placed via the mouth or nose and into the windpipe.
Please be sure to follow all preoperative instructions you are given prior to surgery, especially those related to what can be eaten and drunk before surgery and when the required fasting period must begin. These instructions are critical to help ensure your child's safety while under anesthesia.