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Children's Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock (CHad)
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Anesthesia and Sedation

Photo: Child with maskWhat is an anesthesiologist?

Anesthesiologists are doctors who specialize in providing medication that causes patients to become drowsy or fall asleep (often referred to as sedation). Sedation allows patients to go through procedures that would otherwise be too stressful or painful to undergo without receiving medication.

Anesthesiologists are experts at assessing which medications best match the type of surgery your child is having. Anesthesiologists are also experts at maintaining safety and managing any type of emergency that may arise during a procedure.

How can medication be given?

Every child is different, and each child has different needs if he or she is to have a comfortable experience during a test or procedure. Anesthesiologists have many types of medication they can use, and many ways the medication can be given:

  • Some medicines are taken by mouth
  • Some can be breathed in
  • Some can be given through an I.V. (intravenous)
  • Some can be given with an injection

Each way medication can be given depends upon the specific medication being used, and the specific requirements for completion of the test or procedure.

Developing a plan for your child

Assessments of your child's needs are shared between the child life specialist, the nurse, and the anesthesiologist. Together they will develop a plan based on that assessment that best meets the support needs to ensure your child has a comfortable experience, while being exposed to the least amount of stress. This plan may involve distraction and support by the child life specialist; sedation by the anesthesiologist, anesthesia by an anesthesiologist, or a combination of the interventions.

What can you expect to see as your child goes off to sleep with anesthesia?

Read about your child's possible experiences falling asleep with anesthesia/sedation.

What can you expect to see as your child wakes up from anesthesia?

Read about your child's possible experiences waking up from anesthesia/sedation.