Frequently Asked Questions About Pediatric Anesthesia

Find answers to frequently asked questions about pediatric anesthesia:

If you wish to talk to an anesthesiologist before the day of surgery, call 312.227.5157 and ask to speak to the attending anesthesiologist assigned that day to take consultations. All parents have a chance to meet and talk with their anesthesiologist on the day of surgery. Sometimes, if your child has a very complex problem or a complicated medical history, your surgeon will refer you for a pre-operative anesthesia consultation before the day of surgery.

We recognize that the presence of a parent can be a source of comfort to a child. Some children cope better if they have a parent with them when they go to sleep. Some children, however, do not benefit, especially if the parent is unable to be calm and supportive. In the case of a very young or a very sick child, the presence of a parent may distract the attention of the medical and nursing staff at a critical time. Some parents do not want to have to go into the operating room and should feel no pressure to do so.

Your anesthesiologist is experienced with children and used to putting a child at ease. You may discuss it with your anesthesiologist on the day of surgery. Parents may be able to accompany their child into the operating room, but the final decision always rests with the attending anesthesiologist.

Every effort is made to separate children from their parents for as short a time as possible. After your child is in the recovery room, their vital signs have been taken and their condition is stable, you may join them. Because of space limitations, visiting in the recovery room is restricted to parents only.

It is important to have an empty stomach when having general anesthesia as a person may vomit while going to sleep or waking up, and then inhale stomach contents into the lungs, which can be very dangerous. The hospital will call you the day before the surgery with complete instructions about what time to stop giving your child food and drink. These instructions should be strictly followed. If your child does have something to eat or drink, you should let the nursing staff know on your arrival at the hospital.

Some parents and children, especially teenagers, worry about missing meals on the day of surgery so "stock up" the night before with a large meal. Fatty food, such as pizza, empties slowly from the stomach and after a large fatty meal, the stomach may still have food in it the next morning. Do not over-feed your child or allow them to over-eat the night before surgery and avoid large, fatty meals.

Unless the surgery is urgent, it is common sense and good medical practice not to perform elective surgery on a child unless he or she is in the best possible state of health. All parents receive a preoperative call from the hospital the day before surgery. If your child is unwell, with a fever or a cold, the nurse calling will advise rescheduling the surgery. If the situation is not clear cut, you may be advised to bring your child to the hospital as scheduled with the possibility that surgery may not go ahead.

If you have concerns the day before, call 312.227.5170, and ask to speak to an anesthesiologist after you have received your preoperative call.

Surgery is rarely cancelled unless there is a medical reason. If your child is not in their usual state of health, or has not followed the fasting guidelines given to you, surgery may be delayed.

Sometimes unscheduled emergency surgery is necessary for another child or children. In this circumstance, elective surgery will sometimes be delayed or, less commonly, need to be rescheduled to another day. We recognize the inconvenience this can cause you and your child, and we make every effort to minimize delays.