Any kind of surgery on a child is likely to involve general anesthesia. General anesthesia includes the use of medicine inhaled through a mask or breathing tube or injected into a vein to keep the child safely asleep until the surgery is over. Even minor surgery can be frightening for children, so it is safer and less stressful if the child is fully asleep.
In most cases, children go to sleep within a minute or two by inhaling medicine through a mask. Most children will also need an intravenous (IV) port placed to receive pain medicine, fluids, antibiotics and anti-nausea medicine. 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.
Before your child’s surgery, a nurse will call you to provide more details about the surgery, including when to be at the hospital and when your child should stop eating and drinking before the surgery. This is a great time to ask questions about the procedure.
Below is what you can expect before, during and after your child's surgery at Riley at IU Health:
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 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.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.