Children respond well to information about anaesthesia. It is important that their upcoming procedure and admission are truthfully explained to them in advance. Encourage them to ask questions.
It is important for your child to fast (not eat or drink) before surgery to reduce the risk of them being sick whilst under the anaesthetic. If your child has not been adequately fasted the surgery may be postponed for their safety.
For healthy children over six (6) weeks of age having an elective procedure:
For infants less than six (6) weeks of age please contact your anaesthetist.
Your child will be admitted to hospital by the nursing staff who will ask a variety of questions and take vital observations (temperature, weight etc). You will then meet with the anaesthetist who will take a medical history and examine your child. An anaesthetic plan will be formulated and discussed with you and your child. The plan will include whether there is a need for pre-operative sedation, whether it is appropriate for you to accompany your child for the start of the anaesthesia (usually one parent is able to be present), the method that will be used to start the anaesthetic and post operative pain relief. The risks associated with anaesthesia as they particularly relate to your child will also be discussed.
You and your child are encouraged to ask any questions you may have.
If a general anaesthetic is given it will be administered either by a mask (gas) or by an intravenous injection. The appropriate choice will be determined by your child's anaesthetist. You will most likely be able to stay with your child until they fall asleep, but discuss this with your anaesthetist.
The anaesthetist will remain with your child at all times constantly managing the anaesthetic and monitoring your child.
Following surgery, the anaesthetist will accompany your child to the recovery ward where they will be under the care of experienced nurses until they are safely and comfortably awake. In most situations parents are not permitted in this area. Once your child is fully awake they will be returned to you
Whilst anaesthesia for children is very safe, risks do exist. The chance of a life-threatening complication is extremely rare. Common side effects include nausea and vomiting, sore throat, bruising, allergies or pain. If you need any reassurance please contact your child’s anaesthetist prior to admission. Children are very good at detecting their parent’s emotions so your child will also benefit if you are relaxed and confident about their upcoming procedure.