Pediatric Anesthesia

Pediatric AnesthesiaAs a parent of a child who will soon undergo surgery, you will have lots of questions about the procedure — including some regarding anesthesia. Your doctor and anesthesiologist can answer all of your questions and help you and your child feel more at ease.

It is important that you be a strong source of support and comfort for your child; the more prepared, calm and reassuring you are about the upcoming procedure, the easier the experience will likely be for both you and the child.

Click on the questions to reveal answers.


Q: Should I talk to my child about anesthesia? [+/-]

Absolutely. Explain that the anesthesia will help prevent him or her from feeling pain during the procedure. Avoid language that can frighten or upset the child. Don't say things like “you’ll be given gas” or “you'll be put to sleep.” A child may confuse “gas” with a poisonous or lethal substance, or confuse “put to sleep” with what sometimes happens to pets. Also, avoid saying “you’ll be taking a nap,” as kids may correlate future naps with surgery. Feel free to ask your doctor and anesthesiologist about other tips they can share that can help put you and your child at ease.

In addition, it helps to let your child know where you’ll be during the surgery. Reassure the child that you'll be in the waiting room during the procedure and in the recovery room after the surgery. (You may have the option of sitting with your child until he or she falls asleep before the surgery. Discuss this with your anesthesiologist.)

As you talk with your child about the surgery, remember to stay calm. As difficult as the experience may be, try not to cry in front of your child. If you need a few minutes to compose yourself, go into another room. Your tone, facial expressions and body language can greatly influence your child; if the child senses that you are scared or feel confused, he or she may feel that way, too.

Q: What if my child is afraid? [+/-]

Common fears a child may have include the possibility of separation or abandonment from parents as well as the possibility of pain. In addition to assuring your child that you will be there when he or she wakes up from surgery, bringing along one of the child's favorite toys can help. Be sure to tell your child that if anything feels sore right after the operation, a doctor or nurse will help him or her feel better.

Older children (pre-teens or teens) may worry about “loss of control,” in which they fear they may say or do something embarrassing. They can be reassured that they will not talk or move inappropriately while under anesthesia.

Q: May I choose my child's anesthesiologist? [+/-]

A qualified anesthesiologist will be assigned to your child's procedure. If you prefer a specific anesthesiologist or if your surgeon recommends a specific anesthesiologist, every attempt will be made to assign that particular anesthesiologist to your child's procedure.

Q: Is it important to sit down with the anesthesiologist before surgery? [+/-]

Absolutely. Since the anesthesiologist will be responsible for the comfort and safety of your child during the surgery, it is important that you meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the procedure.

Anesthesia and surgery can affect the entire body, and thus it is important for the anesthesiologist to know as much about your child as possible. You will likely meet your child's anesthesiologist during a preoperative interview, if not immediately before the surgery, at which point the anesthesiologist will carefully review your child's medical history and recent medications.

During this conversation, your child's anesthesiologist will likely touch on:

  • The procedures associated with the surgery

  • Anesthetic choices for your child (including their risks and benefits)

  • Any tests that may be needed

  • What medications might be prescribed for your child

Q: What type of anesthesia will my child receive? [+/-]

Your child's anesthesiologist and surgeon will collaboratively determine what type of anesthesia is best for your child. These options will be discussed with you and your child prior to the surgery.

Q: Will I receive a separate bill from the anesthesiologist? [+/-]

You will probably receive a bill for services provided by your anesthesiologist as you would from any other physician. Your anesthesiologist or another member of the medical staff can help answer questions or address any financial concerns.

Please note that your hospital may charge separately for medications and equipment used for your anesthetics. You can contact your health insurance provider to inquire about your coverage.

The above information is provided by North American Partners in Anesthesia (NAPA). Founded in 1986, NAPA is the leading single specialty anesthesia management company in the United States. To learn more visit: