ChildLife specialists, nurses and Anesthesia Institute personnel all work hard to
make sure the child and family understand the anesthesia and recovery process
One of the biggest differences between children and adults facing surgery and anesthesia is the level of fear and anxiety. While an adult may be scared of surgery and anesthesia, young children can be terrified by both the expectation and the experience. Very young children may have limited or no understanding of what is about to happen to them and parents struggle with ways to ease their child's anxiety.
At Cleveland Clinic, our efforts to reduce this fear start long before the operating room. Our Anesthesiologists, Anesthetists and Child Life Specialists take the time to meet with the parents and the child before surgery to assess the anxiety levels and to explain the process and the plans for recovery and pain management. Sometimes the child is allowed to see and touch samples of equipment that will be used in the operating room so it will be less scary. In most cases, the child is given an oral sedative to start the anesthesia process before they enter the operating area so they will be calm and relaxed when they receive full anesthesia.
In general, children are put to sleep by mask rather than IV (as with adults) to ease their fears. While IV lines are used, they are usually put in after the child is asleep as are epidural and pain blocks for post-surgery pain control (as needed).
Parents are an important part of the team and help greatly in reducing their child's fear. One parent can stay with the child until sleep is induced and a parent is allowed to be in the recovery room when the child wakes up.
At Cleveland Clinic, children (and adults) are allowed to wake up at their own pace. We believe the patient is less stressed when they wake up on their own and are not rushed with medications or physical techniques. A pediatric anesthesiologist is always on call for immediate response during the entire recovery process.