Pediatric General Anesthesia

At Children’s Health℠, our pediatric anesthesiologists have specialized training to provide complete care for children before, during and after surgery. We work closely with surgeons and specialists to keep your child safe while under general anesthesia during procedures.

What is Pediatric General Anesthesia?

General anesthesia is a combination of medications that put your child in a sleep-like state before surgery or other procedures. Under general anesthesia, your child won’t feel pain or have any awareness or memory of the procedure.

Your child may receive anesthesia drugs (anesthetics) through an IV (intravenous) line or as an inhaled gas. Our pediatric anesthesiologists (doctors who specialize in giving and managing anesthetics) use general anesthesia to:

  • Keep your child asleep
  • Reduce pain during procedure and relieve pain afterward
  • Relax your child’s muscles to help keep them still
  • Block your child’s awareness and memory of the procedure

At Children's Health, our pediatric anesthesiologists have a thorough understanding of a pediatric conditions, surgical procedures and how children respond to anesthetics. We carefully plan your child’s anesthesia care, determining the type and amount of drugs based on your child’s age, weight and other factors. We carefully monitor your child during the entirety of these procedures and make adjustments as needed.

Pediatric General Anesthesia services at Children’s Health

Our pediatric anesthesiology services include:

  • Presurgical pediatric anesthesia evaluation in our Preoperative Clinic
  • Anesthesia services for all kinds of surgeries and diagnostic and treatment procedures, such as:
    • Heart procedures, including cardiac imaging, heart surgery and minimally invasive heart procedures, with dedicated cardiac anesthesiologists
    • Dental procedures
    • Hearing and vision tests
    • Imaging studies, such as CT scans and MRI
    • Gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure involving a scope (long, flexible tube with a camera) passed down your child’s throat
    • Interventional pain management
    • Cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy
  • 24/7 pediatric anesthesia coverage at Children’s Health, Parkland Hospital and Texas Health Dallas
  • 24/7 Level I trauma and emergency coverage
  • Inpatient consultations for difficult IV placements and airway intubations
  • Critical care medicine consultations

Learn more by reading our pediatric anesthesia FAQs.

What are the benefits of Pediatric General Anesthesia?

General anesthesia helps make surgery and other procedures painless for children, preventing any awareness or memory of the procedure. Our anesthesiologists use general anesthesia whenever your child is having surgery or other invasive or painful procedures. Without general anesthesia, many life-saving procedures – such as open heart surgery, brain surgery, emergency trauma surgery and organ transplants – would not be possible.

Your child may need general anesthesia for other painless procedures that require them to remain motionless, such as:

  • Diagnostic procedures, such as an MRI, to obtain accurate images
  • Treatments, such as radiation therapy, to avoid affecting healthy tissue

What are the side effects of Pediatric General Anesthesia?

Your child may experience some side effects, which usually go away quickly, while they’re waking up after a procedure. These may include:

  • Confusion, grogginess and disorientation
  • Nausea or vomiting, for which your child can take anti-nausea medication
  • Chills or shakiness
  • Sore throat, if your child had a breathing tube during the procedure

What are the risks of Pediatric General Anesthesia?

Today, anesthesia is very safe, especially under the care of dedicated specialists. In rare cases, certain pediatric general anesthesia risks can occur, including:

  • Aspiration (accidental breathing in of food or fluid), which can lead to pneumonia or other problems
  • Injury to the brain, heart or lungs

Before the procedure, our pediatric anesthesiologists work closely with you and your child to understand any possible risk factors. We plan carefully to anticipate and minimize any problems during the procedure and avoid complications afterward. Through careful monitoring, we manage any issues that happen during or after the procedure.

What are Children’s Health’s outcome metrics for Pediatric Anesthesia?

During a typical year, our pediatric anesthesiologists administer more than 40,000 anesthetics for all kinds of procedures, from diagnostic imaging to open heart surgery to trauma surgery to organ transplantation. With such a high volume of patients, our doctors have extensive experience to manage care in even the most complex and challenging situations.

What to expect with Pediatric General Anesthesia

Before your child’s surgery or procedure, you and your child will meet with the pediatric anesthesiologist to discuss the details of the procedure. We’re dedicated to making your child’s experience as safe, trouble-free and comfortable as possible.

What to expect before Pediatric General Anesthesia

When your child needs general anesthesia for a surgery or procedure, our anesthesia team first reviews your child's medical records and procedure details. In some situations, your child will go to our preanesthesia (also known as preoperative) clinic for tests before the procedure. Find out all the details about preparing your child for anesthesia.

What to expect during Pediatric General Anesthesia

Upon arrival for the procedure, you and your child meet with the pediatric anesthesiologist who will be taking care of your child during the procedure. We will ask about their medical history, explain which anesthetic we plan to use and answer your questions.

Depending on your child’s individual needs, we deliver the anesthetics through an IV line in their arm or as a gas that they breathe through a mask or a breathing tube. We will prescribe and administer the types of anesthetics and their doses based on your child’s weight, medical conditions and surgical procedure. We can adjust the anesthetics during the procedure as needed.

During the procedure, the anesthesiologist uses state-of-the-art monitoring equipment and other tools to:

  • Monitor your child's vital signs, including breathing, heart rate and rhythm, temperature, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels
  • Keep your child comfortable by injecting medications into the IV line or local anesthetics into various parts of the body, if necessary
  • Address any problems or unexpected emergencies that might arise during surgery

What to expect after Pediatric General Anesthesia

After the procedure, the care team moves your child to the recovery room. Our nurses monitor your child as they continue to wake up, checking their vital signs. The anesthesiologist or recovery room nurses provide medications, if needed and according to the anesthesiologist’s plan, for any pain, nausea or other issues that your child may have after the procedure.

The care team will speak with you about how to care for your child when you take them home, with instructions on:

  • How long your child should rest
  • What and when your child can eat and drink
  • When your child can get back to their usual activities
  • When and how to give your child pain or over-the-counter medications
  • What to do if your child experiences any problems

What questions should I ask my provider about Pediatric General Anesthesia?

  • Will my child need to spend the night at the hospital after general anesthesia?
  • Are there other anesthesia or sedation options for my child?
  • What medications should my child stop taking before general anesthesia?
  • How soon will I be able to see my child after general anesthesia?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What type of anesthesia will my child have?

    The type of anesthesia your child will receive depends on the type of surgery or procedure that they’re having and other factors. With general anesthesia, your child will be in a sleep-like state, be unaware of their surroundings and have no memory of the procedure.

    Your child’s anesthesiologist will discuss various anesthesia techniques and alternatives with you to decide what’s best for your child.

  • How are anesthesia medications administered?

    In most cases, your child receives pediatric general anesthesia medications:

    • Injected into a blood vessel through an intravenous (IV) line
    • Inhaled with a breathing mask or a breathing tube in the windpipe
  • Can I be with my child while they are under anesthesia?

    You will remain with your child until the team takes them to the procedure room, where they will receive pediatric anesthesia medications and go to sleep. We use premedications to help relieve your child’s anxiety and any memory of being away from their family.

    We do not typically allow parents to come into the procedure because of safety and privacy concerns. Once your child is asleep, a member of the care team will update you on your child’s status and the progress of the procedure.