As with all patients, when a young or premature infant needs surgery or a medical procedure, safe and effective anesthesia is a major concern. Anesthesia is administered to even the youngest babies, including neonates (infants who are 28 days old or younger) and premature babies (infants who are born before their due date). Evidence shows that these babies do react to pain and can greatly benefit from anesthesia during surgery or other painful or stressful procedures.
Anesthesia may be required when a premature infant or a neonate undergoes a surgical procedure early in life to treat a condition such as:
Because many of these conditions are life-threatening, prompt repair or treatment is critical. Surgery and other medical procedures on infants may be performed in an emergency situation, including some that occur immediately or shortly after birth. Pediatric anesthesiologists work closely with surgeons, obstetricians, neonatologists and other professionals to ensure all services are in place whenever an infant needs surgery or treatment requiring anesthesia. Anesthetic management of the premature infant and the neonate is an important aspect of the practice of pediatric anesthesiologists.
Before your baby undergoes surgery or another medical procedure requiring anesthesia, the pediatric anesthesiologist will:
You can expect the following during your baby's surgery:
Your baby will need to remain at the hospital at least overnight so his or her medical team can keep watch for any problems or complications. He or she will stay in one of several of the hospital’s patient care units. The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) cares for babies who have had major surgery or who need advanced care, including mechanical ventilation.