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When your child is having surgery, safely controlling pain during and after the operation is especially critical. Children are often frightened by pain, and children who have bad healthcare experiences can become afraid to seek care in the future.
Pediatric anesthesiologists have special training in controlling pain regionally through nerve blocks or epidurals that work on specific nerve groups. These methods have a long history of safety in children. They can provide more consistent pain control and may reduce the need for oral or injectable medicines that often have troublesome side effects. The focus is on keeping patients as comfortable as possible while also keeping them safe.
If the anesthesiologist uses an epidural or nerve block, the injection or placement of the catheter can be done while your child is asleep. In most cases, children fall asleep quickly while breathing medicine through a mask (surgical anesthesia).The epidural or nerve block will control pain during and after surgery.
To control pain at the surgical site, anesthesiologists at Riley at IU Health may use one of two types of anesthesia:
On the day of your child’s surgery, the pediatric anesthesiologist will talk to you about the plan for controlling pain. He or she will let you know if your child would benefit from regional and acute pain control during or after the operation. He or she will also talk to you about the benefits and possible risks of different types of anesthesia and what the anesthesiology team will do to help keep your child safe. A Child Life specialist may also interact with your child to help keep him or her distracted from any discomfort and to provide positive ways to express any fear or other emotions.
If your child goes home after the surgery, the injected medicine will help make the ride home more comfortable. In most cases, your child may take oral medicine, usually prescribed by the surgeon, to help control pain at home after the injection wears off.
If your child is staying overnight or longer in the hospital after the operation, the anesthesia team will continue to monitor him or her for pain control, adjusting the dosage to safely keep your child as comfortable as possible.
While complete absence of pain after surgery may not be possible, regional and acute pain anesthesia can make surgery much more tolerable for children.
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