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Learning About Anesthesia for Your Child

What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia controls pain during surgery or another kind of procedure. It could also make your child sleepy or forgetful. Or it may make your child unconscious. It depends on what kind of anesthesia is used. The doctor or nurse will make sure that your child is comfortable and safe during the procedure or surgery.

What are the types of anesthesia in children?

The different types of anesthesia in children include:

  • Sedation. It's medicine that helps your child relax or fall asleep. It may be used with other medicine to control pain.
  • Local. It numbs a small part of the body.
  • Regional. It blocks pain to a larger area of the body. Some types of regional anesthesia include:
    • Peripheral nerve blocks. This is a shot of medicine to block pain around a specific nerve or group of nerves. Blocks are often used for procedures on the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face.
    • Spinal, epidural, and caudal. These are shots of medicine near the spinal cord and the nerves that connect to it. They block pain from an entire region of the body, such as the belly, hips, or legs.
  • General. It affects your child's whole body. Your child will be unconscious during the procedure.

What should you tell the anesthesia specialist before the procedure?

Tell the specialist about any health problems your child has. Tell them about your child's past surgeries. Also let them know if a family member had problems with anesthesia. Give them a list of any medicines and natural health products your child takes.

What are the risks of anesthesia?

Major side effects aren't common. But all types of anesthesia have some risk. The risk depends on your child's overall health. It also depends on the type of anesthesia and how your child responds to it. Serious but rare risks include breathing problems and a reaction to the medicine.

Some health conditions increase the risk of problems. Your child's anesthesia provider will find out about any health problems your child has that could affect your child's care.

A doctor will watch your child closely during the procedure. They'll make sure that your child stays safe and comfortable.

Where can you learn more?

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