Pediatric Anesthesiologists provide the same range of anesthesiology services available to adults but the special needs of younger patients creates significant differences in the mix of services provided. Children receive anesthesia for many tests and procedures that adults would undergo without anesthesia or with only sedation. Because children cannot hold still long enough or would suffer from anxiety, they are often given anesthesia for diagnostic tests such as MRIs, CAT and PET scans and Angiography or procedures such as radiation therapy.
Similarly, many minimally invasive procedures that would be performed under local anesthesia or with pain blocks are performed under full anesthesia with many children both for the child's safety and to prevent emotional trauma. Anesthesia techniques may also be different in these cases. If the child is not too sick or too young, they may be given less anesthesia so they are asleep but do not require breathing support and can wake up much quicker and with less problems than with the standard anesthesia provided to adults.
Physical differences between children and adults also often require different equipment, different dosages and different techniques. Pediatric Anesthesiologists must be well-versed in the all of the different growth stages of children so they can choose the proper equipment, dosages and techniques appropriate for the child's age, development and size.
Surgical and post-surgical monitoring of children also requires special training and expertise. Normal heart rates, blood pressure and other values change as a child grows and are different from adult values. Pediatric anesthesiologists know how to properly interpret children's vital signs to provide optimal care for their age and development level.
Often in cardiac cases, especially congenital heart cases, the differences the anesthesiologist must take into account can be profound and can challenge the practitioner's skills with valve problems, weak hearts and abnormal connections, all of which must be taken into account for safe anesthesia and proper monitoring.