Anesthesia and Kids

Archived Q&A and Reviews

General Anesthesia for toddler's small surgical procedure?

Nov 2005

My 2 year old needs to undergo a small surgical procedure (release of trigger thumb) that is normally done with local anesthesia for adults, but because she needs to stay still they usually use general anesthesia for toddlers. I've searched the web for how this is usually administered and can't find anything. On this site, people have talked about everything from drops to an IV, and from a friend who had ear tubes put in his daughter's ear I heard they use a gas mask. Can anyone enlighten me on this topic? Personal experience, websites, or ? thank you for sharing!

I have had two kids go under general anesthesia: my 7 year old had surgery to put pins in his broken arm, and my 3 year old had open heart surgery. Both times they were given a fast-acting syrupy medicine in a cup (similar to valium, but it also provides an amnesiac quality). The name is escaping me at the moment! We waited until s/he started to feel drowsy and relaxed, and then they took the child into the operating theater. It is in the OT thst they are given the gas mask, etc. I highly, highly recommend you talk to your doctor and/or anesthesiologist if you have any questions! It is scary to let them take your child away but those docs really know what they're doing. Good luck to you! Been There, Done That
My daughter had surgery twice before she was 2. Both times they sedated her with gas and when she was asleep they inserted an IV and put her under. I was able to stay with her until she was asleep. She came through both times very well and was even up playing within 2 hours of the procedure. Good Luck! Gabrielle
Our son Nate has had general anesthesia three times in his short life (he's 2) at Children's Hospital in Oakland. His were minor procedures, so I imagine your daughter's experience will be similar. We had to withhold food and water after midnight the night before the procedures. Since our appointment was quite early, that didn't pose any problem.

Once we got there, they made sure he was healthy and weighed him. Then, they gave him some versed (sp?), a medication that sedated him and suppresses memory of the event. We carried him to the room, where they put a mask over his face--the most traumatic part for us and for him. Once he was under, we left the room and they put in an IV and performed the procedure.

After they were done, we could sit by him while we waited for him to wake up. Nate had no ill effects from the anaesthesia. Hope that alleviates your anxiety! Wendy

My then, 3 year old daughter had six teeth that needed to be capped. Her dentist, Gary Sabbadini DDS (wonderful man!), recommend she be put to sleep for the procedure. The dentist office hired a licensed anesthesiologist, Thomas Lenhart of Bay Area Anesthesia, to perform the anesthesia.

The day before she was scheduled to go in, Dr. Lenhart himself called me and explained to me how he operated. He told me that he would bring all of his equipment with him and turn the dentist office into a mini surgery room.

He was very kind and gentle and very good with my daughter, entertaining her w/ magic tricks and slight of hand. Then asked my husband to put her on his lap facing him and give her a hug, meanwhile he gave her a shot that sedated her. Once the medicine took effect, they carried her into the dentist room and did the work. They made a very scary situation run as smoothly as possible. I was completely satisfied and comfortable. Mother of Two

My 18-month-old son had general anesthesia for an outpatient operation today at Children's Hospital. It included a combination of things. First, he received an oral sedative (in the form of syrup) to calm him and help him forget the day's events. He was already very drowsy when they put a gas mask on him to make him unconscious (this part was compared to dental anesthesia). Once asleep, they put in an IV, breathing tube, etc. for the ''real'' anesthesia, AND he received a caudal block (sort of like an epidural) for local pain management. He wasn't awake for any needle pokes at all (and, we even had them draw blood for a few unrelated tests while he was asleep, to save him a trip to the lab). I'm sure your doctor can give you very specific information about your child's anesthesia plan. Though our surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nursing staff were always pretty rushed, we had plenty of opportunities to ask questions and get information about the process. We felt very good about the way things were handled. Best of luck to you! ekc
My 2 1/4 yr. old just had general anesthesia for a dental procedure (8 cavities! But that's a different post). The anesthesia was administered by a pediatric anesthesiologist from Children's Hospital in Oakland, in the dentist's office. We were very happy with how it all went (well, as happy as you can be when your toddler has to go under). I'll tell you what he did, but I also advise you to call the anesthesiologist at your hospital and ask them their procedure. You can also call the Children's Anesthesia Medical Group at (925) 284-5049 to speak with someone there.

Here's what ours did:
- gave our son a nasal spray with some kind of valium-like drug first, to relax him. This drug also had amnestic qualities so my son would NOT remember this experience later. My son didn't like it at first, but within a few minutes was relaxed and happy.
- Then they took him into the procedure room. He was laid down, and while the anesthesiologist prepped the IV, I cooed to my son and reassured him. Meanwhile, another dr. placed a gas mask over his face. Because of the valium stuff, and my presence, he did not protest too much. He was out in a few minutes.
- I left the room during the procedure!
- Afterward, in about an hour, they brought him to me very sleepy. He slowly woke up, and was pretty miserable for a few hours. After these few hours, and a popsicle, he was happier. He was unsteady on his feet for at least another hour after that. It all went much better than I expected. Good luck to you. Christine

My son had surgery on his hand at 11 mos. He underwent general anesthesia as part of the procedure. It was a scary idea for me, but I would say in the end that it wasn't that big of a deal. He was intubated, so when he cried anytime in the next 24 hours or so, his voice was husky, which kind of got to me. He was flushed and just coming out of the anesthesia when we went to the recovery room, but within an hour he was stable and lucid and we went home. Good luck with your child's procedure! Beth
My 22 month old son just had a minor surgery at Children's and had general anesthesia. It was really easy, quick, and he was fine a few hours later. First they gave him a sedative which made him spacey and happy, he didn't care when the surgeon carried him off, then they administered the general through an IV. We were with him as soon as he was out of the operating room adn with him when he woke up. He was groggy for a couple hours, a little fussy, he did throw up when he had some milk, but after about 3 hours was back to normal. Big relief. Very easy. Elena
We just had my 22 month old's adenoids out under general anesthesia at Children's Hospital, Oakland, outpatient wing. She was first given an oral sedative which made her initially very loopy (i.e. silly and acting drunk) and then very drowsy. We were able to stay with her up to the point of her receiving the mask for the general anesthesia. Because of the initial sedative, this was not at all traumatic for her, she was almost asleep anyway. It may not be pleasant for the PARENT to see (I was OK with it, my husband was less so) but she was not in any distress at that point. She was quite unhappy and inconsolable coming OUT of the anesthesia. We were allowed to be with her pretty immediately upon her waking. We were told that itcan be quite disorienting for the children at this stage, and/or she might have been in pain from the surgery. She was given some Morphine which settled her down pretty quicklyand after sleeping she woke up much more easily. We saw other children come and go in recovery with no problems at all. You may see many more anectdotes of experiences with general anesthesia in regards to tonsills/adenoids, because this is how it is done for the children and this is a common surgery. Good luck... Anon
My daughter, now 5-1/2, has been under general anesthesia many times for diagnostic and minor surgical procedures. One thing that is CRITICAL is to schedule your surgery for as early in the morning as possible because you will have to withhold food and drink from something like 8 pm the night before, and it's a nightmare to be sitting in the check-in area for however ridiculously long they will inevitably make you wait with a sustenance-deprived young one ! I made the mistake once of giving my daughter a lollypop to stop her crying, thinking that it wouldn't count as solid food, only to have the anesthesiologist refuse to continue and insist I reschedule the whole @#@$% ordeal. Live and learn... keaiwen