Pediatric and Neonatal Anesthesia
What is Pediatric Anesthesia?
Pediatric Anesthesia is a specialty with expertise, focus, and sensitivity to the particular needs of children and their parents. Southeast Anesthesiology Consultants have developed insights into the best approaches for working with children and parents to help reduce fears, anxieties and to help assure the best possible surgical outcome.
How do you calm a child’s fears regarding pediatric anesthesia?
Southeast Anesthesiology Consultants goes to great lengths in the preoperative visit to reduce fears and anxiety for both parents and children. We accomplish this by using terms that they can understand, showing them the anesthesia mask and explaining what will occur during anesthesia. Additionally, the anesthesiologist may prescribe a premedication that will help your child relax. A review the child’s medical history and planned surgery is also completed so that we can understand exactly how your child may react to the overall hospital visit.
What is the difference between anesthesia in adults and anesthesia in children?
Anesthetic considerations for children and infants are quite different from those for adults. Children tend to worry about shots and the unknown while adults are typically more concerned about surgery and anesthesia. Studies have shown that children feel surface pain more intensely due to a greater density of pain receptors in the skin. We, at Southeast Anesthesiology Consultants, are very sensitive to this and provide an appropriate level of pain relief through the use of topical local anesthetics along with other pain medications where indicated. With the pain and anxiety expertly managed by your pediatric anesthesiologist, we also know that children undergoing surgery will have an advantage over adults in their ability to arouse quickly from anesthesia and to heal faster.
How will anesthesia be administered?
While the age and maturity of a child helps us decide the best way to administer anesthesia, the most frequent method for younger children is through inhalation. Inhalation anesthesia allows children to breathe themselves off to sleep with oxygen, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and anesthesia gas. To make this experience more pleasant for the child, we frequently add a candy fragrance to this "magic air" mixture. Going to sleep in this manner allows the child to avoid shots. As children get older, the preferred technique for inducing anesthesia becomes intravenous (IV). The reason that intravenous anesthesia is preferred over the use of a mask as a child gets older is because the time needed to go to sleep with the mask is prolonged. If an older child is afraid of an IV, they can usually receive anesthesia through inhalation (use of the mask) as a secondary option.
How can you minimize anxiety before surgery?
Medications taken by mouth, nasally, IV or intramuscular can sedate the child prior to the start of the anesthetic. Because such medications may have side effects, such as prolonged drowsiness after surgery, your anesthesiologist will decide the best option for a child after a thorough discussion with you. A child’s medical history along with the family history will play into the pediatric anesthesiologist’s decision. Many children do very well with simple, soothing reassurance and do not require anything other than a ride to the OR holding the hand of a caring anesthesia provider who also shows compassion to the child as they drift off to sleep.
What happens in the postoperative care unit?
Our anesthesiologists monitor pediatric patients closely when they leave the operating room. Once the patient recovers in the post anesthesia care unit, they are moved along to phase 2 recovery or to their room, where they rejoin their parents. When a child becomes fully awake and is able to drink fluids, the surgeon and anesthesiologist will determine when the child can be discharged. Our ultimate concern is a child's safety and comfort.
What should I expect during recovery?
Youth enables infants and children to recover quickly from the stress of anesthesia and surgery. While the pediatric anesthesiologist understands a child will experience pain and will require pain medication, it is known that a child will tolerate pain better than an adult. The immediate postoperative period also presents some risk, and the anesthesiologist is immediately available to manage any post operative issues. We will oversee a child's recovery with the same caring approach that we follow before and during surgery.