What is a Pediatric Anesthesiologist?
If your child has an illness, injury, or disease that requires surgery, a pediatric anesthesiologist has the experience and qualifications to assist in the treatment and to help ensure a successful surgery for your child.
A pediatric anesthesiologist is a fully trained anesthesiologist who has completed at least 1 year of specialized training in anesthesia care of infants and children. Most pediatric surgeons deliver care to children in the operating room along with a pediatric anesthesiologist. Many children who need surgery have very complex medical problems that affect many parts of the body. The pediatric anesthesiologist is best qualified to evaluate these complex problems and plan a safe anesthetic for each child. Through special training and experience, pediatric anesthesiologists provide the safest care for infants and children undergoing anesthesia.
Anesthesia for Your Child
Parents often have concerns and questions about their child's anesthesia. We provide a team of specialty-trained pediatric anesthesiologists to care for your child.
You and your child will talk to an anesthesiologist before surgery. This may be on the day of your pre-op clinic visit or on the day of surgery.
The anesthesiologist, along with your child's surgeon, will plan for the management of pain after surgery. Your child will be cared for by the anesthesiologist from the time before entering the operating room until acceptable recovery from anesthesia medicine after surgery. When the anesthesiologist is certain your child is comfortable, your child will be ready to return home or to be taken to a hospital room.
Preparing Your Child for Surgery
It is understandable that planning for a child's surgery is stressful for parents. To help prepare you and your child for the hospital experience, it is important to speak honestly with your child before the day of surgery. Be aware that your feelings of anxiety, although normal, can be sensed by your child. Try to be positive and provide the emotional support your child needs.
You may expect questions such as:
- Why do I have to have an operation?
- What is going to happen to me?
- Will you be with me?
- Will I be awake? or, Will I wake back up?
- Is it going to hurt?
- How long do I have to stay there?
Two to five year old children worry mostly about being separated from their parents. Young school age children will also have fear of pain. Older children will want to know what will happen to their bodies. Answer these questions as simply and as honestly as you can.
If pain is expected and is a concern for your child, it is truthful to say that the pain can be treated with medicine. The medicine will not hurt and they should only feel a little sore afterwards.
Risk of Anesthesia
The healthy child is an excellent anesthetic risk similar to the risk of any healthy adult. If your child has any health problems that make the risk greater, the pediatric anesthesiologist will talk to you about them and answer any questions that you may have.
If your child comes down with a cold or symptoms of illness during the week before the planned surgery, please call your surgeon's office. Your child may need to be seen or the surgery moved to another date when your child is well.
Major surgery may involve the need for blood products. The UNC Hospitals Blood Bank uses the newest and best available laboratory tests to check collected blood for infectious risks. We use blood products cautiously. If you have specific concerns regarding the use of blood products, please discuss these with your anesthesiologist and surgeon before surgery.
What Types of Treatments Do Pediatric Anesthesiologists Provide?
Pediatric anesthesiologists are responsible for the general anesthesia, sedation, and pain management needs of infants and children. Pediatric anesthesiologists generally provide the following services:
- Evaluation of complex medical problems in infants and children when surgery is needed
- Planning and care for before and after surgery
- A nonthreatening environment for children in the operating room
- Pain control, if needed after surgery, either with intravenous (IV) medications or other anesthetic techniques
- Anesthesia and sedation for many procedures out of the operating room such as MRI, CT scan, and radiation therapy.
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