Also known as: general anesthesia, local anesthesia, anesthetic.

What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia is a treatment that either reduces or completely eliminates pain. It’s typically administered prior to surgery or other medical procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

The type of anesthesia depends on the procedure, the amount of pain expected and the age and condition of the patient.

  • Local anesthesia is best used for cooperative children to numb a small usually superficial area of the body (for example, a mole removal) and can take the form of a topical cream and/or injection and can be combined with oral sedatives or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) if necessary.
  • General anesthesia makes a patient completely unconscious and can be brief for young children unable to cooperate for a procedure and or longer for major operations. General anesthesia can be administered through an IV, mask or breathing tube. Regional anesthesia can block pain for an entire area of the body, such as the arm, leg or back.

Is any special preparation needed?

The technique of pain alleviation is tailored to the individual patient and preparation for each type of anesthesia is different. Local anesthesia requires no special preparation while general anesthesia is more complicate and usually requires an empty stomach. Our doctors will communicate any special instructions at the time surgery is planned and then the day prior to the procedure.

What are the risk factors?

Modern techniques of anesthesia are exceedingly safe with very few complications in the healthy child. As with all medications, allergic reactions, although unusual, can occur but are usually easily treated at the time they occur. Serious complications, such as pneumonia or others, happen fewer than one in 10,000 procedures, making it safer than the drive to the facility for the operation. These risks are prevented by careful monitoring of the child during all procedures.

Reviewed by: Cathy Anne Burnweit, MD

This page was last updated on: October 21, 2019 10:22 AM