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When your child has heart surgery or any kind of cardiac procedure, anesthesia is critically important. Whether your child needs open-heart surgery or a cardiac catheterization procedure, general anesthesia or heavy sedation will probably be required.
Riley at IU Health has a dedicated pediatric cardiac anesthesiology team that will ensure your child will remain safely asleep throughout the procedure. Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists use advanced technology to monitor your child’s vital signs as well as make sure the heart and lungs are protected during surgery and the brain is receiving enough blood to keep the nervous system functioning and healthy.
When placed under anesthesia, children often go to sleep within a minute or two by inhaling medicine through a mask. Some children with congenital heart conditions or other health issues cannot safely breathe anesthesia medicine through a mask. These children receive medicine through a vein and go to sleep very quickly.
If your child is scheduled for heart surgery at Riley at IU Health, you will be scheduled to come to the preoperative clinic the day before the procedure. At this visit, a nurse will let you know when your child should stop eating and drinking before the surgery. The nurse will talk to you about your child's procedure, draw blood for lab work if necessary and answer any questions you may have.
If the surgery is scheduled while your child is a patient in the hospital, a nurse will visit you and your child in the hospital room to discuss the procedure and the anesthesia process.
Below is what you can expect before, during and after your child's heart surgery:
Most children are groggy and might be cranky or confused for a while—perhaps several hours—after waking up. Some children become severely agitated and upset after anesthesia. If this happens, the anesthesiologist can provide mild sedation to help your child calm down and recover. If your child feels nauseated when he or she wakes up, the nurse can provide medicine to help him or her feel better and to prevent vomiting. Keep in mind that any negative effects from anesthesia are usually short-lived.
Before your child goes home or to a hospital room, the anesthesiologist will make sure pain and nausea are controlled and vital signs are within safe ranges. Your child may still be sleepy, cranky or confused for several hours after waking up. In most cases, you can remain with your child during this time, and a Child Life specialist may also be on hand to help you and your child stay calm and comfortable. If your child needs to stay asleep after surgery, he or she will be kept sleepy and comfortable.
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