Anaesthetic for my child

How do you give my child's anaesthetic?

The way the anaesthetic is given varies from child to child and anaesthetist to anaesthetist. There may be variations in small details of the anaesthetic, but there is always one constant – safety.

On the day of the procedure, your child’s anaesthetist will examine your child, ask some relevant questions, and then outline their anaesthetic plan.

Occasionally a premed (pre-operative medication) is given. This could be paracetamol to help with pain relief after the operation, or it could be a sedative. Due to the changes in admission times to reduce waiting times prior to surgery, the use of premeds has fallen.

Once in the operating room, there are essentially two techniques for providing initial anaesthesia – via an intravenous (IV) drip, or by breathing gas via a mask.

If an IV is planned, a special cream can be used on the skin to make the initial injection relatively painless. The cream, if left on for at least 30 minutes, makes the skin over the veins numb. The advantage of  an IV induction is that starting the anaesthesia is very effective and rapid.

Breathing anaesthetic gas via a facemask (gas induction) is another popular way to commence anaesthesia. No IV drip is required prior to this anaesthetic. The gas is a sweet smelling gas that most children tolerate well. Once asleep, your anaesthetist will then place an IV drip to give your child the necessary complements to the anaesthetic – painkillers, anti-sickness medication etc.

Usually one parent is able to accompany their child into the operating theatre to be present for the beginning of the anaesthetic.

When the operation has finished, your child will be taken to the recovery room. Here they continue to be closely monitored until fully awake. They are usually in the recovery room for 30 to 60 minutes – sometimes longer depending on the child and their requirements.

Whilst in recovery, we often allow one (sometimes two) parent/guardian to be present as your child emerges from the anaesthetic.