Sedation for Children's Radiologic Procedures

What is Sedation?

Sedation medication will put your child in a sedated sleep state so that he or she is relaxed enough to remain still for the test. Sedation is not the same as general anesthesia. With sedation, your child will not feel anything during the test.

There are different types of sedation. The day of the study, the sedating physician will discuss which sedation medication will be best for your child’s healthcare needs.

Why Sedation?

It is important that your child is comfortable and stays very still during the test to ensure the best results possible.

Rules for Sedation

When sedation is needed, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the procedure. Prior to the exam date, you will receive a phone call from a Nicklaus Children’s Hospital staff member to discuss the eating and drinking instructions below.

Sedation Eating and Drinking Instructions Per Age Groups:

Infants under 12 months:
  • Up to 6 hours before the scheduled appointment time, formula fed babies can be given formula.
  • Up to 4 hours before the scheduled appointment time, breastfed babies can nurse.
Children older than 12 months:
  • 8 hours before the scheduled appointment time, do not give any solid food or non-clear liquids.
  • This includes: milk, formula, juice with pulp, coffee and chewing gum or candy.
All Children:
  • Up to 2 hours before the scheduled appointment time, give only clear liquids. 
  • Clear liquids include: water, Pedialyte, Kool-Aid, and juices you can see through, such as apple or white grape juice.
  • In the 2 hours before the scheduled appointment time, give nothing to eat or drink.
  • Your child should have nothing by mouth in the 2 hours before the test—not even a sip of water, gum or a mint.  
  • If your child takes daily medication, you may give it unless specifically told not to do so by your child’s doctor or the scheduling nurse.

What to Expect the Day of the Exam


Step 1: Getting Ready

  • From the waiting room, you will be brought to an exam room where you will be seen by a nurse who will check your child’s vital signs as well as ask general questions about your child’s health and any known allergies.
    • Please Note: We encourage you to bring your child’s favorite toy or activity to provide distraction while in the exam room (the “get ready room.”)
  • Soon after, the sedation doctor will assess your child for sedation. If your child has a cold, fever or is congested, or has been vomiting, your child may not be able to receive sedation medication.
  • Once your child has been approved for sedation, the doctor will decide the best type of sedation medication based on the child’s weight and the length of the study.
  • For older children and those who will be undergoing longer tests, sedation medication is given by “IV” (intravenous) catheter.
    • IV information: An IV is a soft, plastic straw placed into the vein in the hand or arm. If applicable, numbing medicine may be used to help your child feel as comfortable as possible during the IV placement.
  • Although some studies may still require IV sedation, some children scheduled for brief tests and those who are age 2 or younger, sedation medication may be given by mouth.

Step 2: Falling Asleep

  • It can take approximately 15 minutes for your child to fully fall asleep once the sedation medicine is given.  
  • It is a normal reaction for some children to fight the urge to sleep and become emotionally upset before fully falling asleep.
  • Once your child is asleep, the technologist will begin the exam. Staff will notify you and let you know if you can stay for the exam or suggest taking a break at this time.

Step 3: Recovery Room

  • Once the exam is finished, a staff member will bring you and your child back to a recovery exam room where your child will begin waking up.
  • It is normal for your child to wake up feeling very emotional and tired after sedation.
  • You and your child will stay in recovery for approximately 1 hour. During that hour, your child will need to drink clear liquids such as apple juice or Gatorade and stay awake.
  • If your child is able to hold down the liquids consumed and stay awake, you are ready to go home! You will be provided with discharge instructions.

Step 4: Results

  • Your doctor will receive the test results within 48 to 72 business hours. Please schedule an appointment with your doctor to obtain the results of the test. 

This page was last updated on: March 18, 2021 04:58 PM

Children's Radiology

The Radiology facilities at Nicklaus Children’s are specifically designed for the comfort and diagnosis of infants, children and adolescents.

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