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About Sedation

Many radiological studies and procedures require children to stay very still for a long period of time. Depending on the childr​en's age and maturity, they may not be able to do this by themselves. Sedation and anesthesiology help us ensure children's safety and cooperation during their radiological study or procedure.

Sedation means that we give children medicine to help them fall asleep before the procedure. We also give medicine to relieve pain when​ it is needed. Usually, sedation medicine is injected into a vein. It is administered by the specially trained sedation nurse, under the direction of our pediatric hospitalist physicians.

If your child requires sedation, we will contact you before your visit with specific instructions. Generally, sedation is recommended for children who need pain or anxiety control measures, and developmentally delayed children. If you think your child may need sedation, please call us at 312.227.4461. You can also learn more about general preparation for sedation.

What to Expect

A member of our sedation team will call you to talk about your child. We will create a sedation plan based on his or her special needs. Please ask us any questions you may have, and tell us anything you think is important about your child's care.

The average visit for a child receiving sedation is four hours, however this can change based on the needs of your child. Most of the time, children are admitted and discharged on the same day. Each child is assigned their own nurse from the sedation team. A doctor is also in the area at all times.

Your child will sleep as long as is needed to complete the procedure. After it is done, your sedation nurse will decide when to wake your child up based on their personal sedation plan.

Procedural Sedation versus General Anesthesia

When your child’s exam is ordered, with Procedural Sedation or General Anesthesia, by their physician, Medical Imaging Schedulers will contact you.  The schedulers will transfer you to a Medical Imaging prescreening nurse that will talk to you regarding whether your child meets the criteria for procedural sedation versus general anesthesia.

General Anesthesia is performed at both the Streeterville campus (Main Hospital) and at the Northbrook location. Procedural Sedation can be performed at the Lincoln Park location (Clark and Deming) and at the Westchester location. The Procedural sedation model has certain criteria that need to be met, so if your child does not meet these parameters, they will be scheduled with general anesthesia at one of the two locations. Most of these locations also have a Child Life Specialist that can help your child feel more comfortable. If your child is anxious about their Medical Imaging plan, a Child Life Specialist may be involved to support your child’s coping with the experience. There will be a lot of people you and your child will meet on the day of the procedure. There will be a Patient Care representative at the start of your child’s visit. Other staff you will meet during your child’s visit are nurses, Imaging Technologists, and Physicians. Each person plays a critical role in the success of your child’s imaging procedure

What is the difference between General Anesthesia and Procedural Sedation?

General Anesthesia (GA)

General Anesthesia (GA) is administered by an Anesthesiologist or a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). On the day of the exam, you will have the opportunity to discuss the anesthesia plan with a member of your child’s Anesthesia team. They will explain what will happen and have you sign an informed consent. Anesthesia differs from sedation because it uses medical gases and intravenous medications versus just IV or procedural sedation. If your child is very anxious, they may offer a premedication that will decrease your child’s anxiety. You may accompany your child back to the suite where you and your child will wait  until a scanning room is available. At this point the medical team (Anesthesia provider, a Medical Imaging nurse and the Imaging specialist) will have you give a hug and kiss to your child and you will be escorted to the waiting room. While your child is asleep the anesthesiologist or CRNA will monitor your child’s vitals (heart rate, oxygen level, blood pressure) and they will provide support for your child, as needed. The exam will then be performed, and your child will go to the recovery area. Once your child is beginning to wake up, the Medical Imaging nurse will bring you to the recovery area. 

Procedural Sedation

Procedural sedation is managed by a Hospitalist. A Hospitalist is a licensed physician who practices in a hospital and manages a wide array of medical conditions. At the time of scheduling, you child will be transferred to a Medical Imaging nurse who will take a brief medical history and will determine if your child is a candidate for procedural sedation based on parameters. These parameters have been reviewed by a team of Sedation, Anesthesiologists and nurses to ensure that the right type of medications are used to keep your child safe during the MRI. Just as with GA, you will meet with the Hospitalist who will explain the process and answer your questions. They will explain what type of medications will be used and have you sign an informed consent. The nursing team will be present during this process, as well as a Child Life Specialist, if available and needed for your child’s support.  Based on the type of procedural sedation being used, your child may need an IV started. Your child will be monitored during the exam and once the scan is complete, they will return to the nursing area to recover. Once your child is beginning to wake up, the Medical Imaging nurse will bring you back to the recovery area.

Prior to the date of your child’s exam, you will receive a call from the Medical Imaging prescreening nurse which will provide you with arrival times and rules for eating and drinking before your child’s exam. This will allow plenty of time to work with the Anesthesia team, the Medical Imaging nursing team (MINT), the Imaging Specialist and/or the Hospitalist.

Home Care After Sedation

Often, children are very sleepy for the rest of the day. The sedation nurse will guide you on the best plan for your child. Most children are not steady on their feet and require supervision.

Feed your child light foods and clear liquids first. Because dizziness and nausea can occur, we recommend staying away from greasy or spicy foods until the next day.

Whether your child will be able to participate in normal physical activities and go to school depends what time of the day your child was sedated and the length on time it takes for the sedation to wear off. Each child is different. Please talk to your sedation nurse during your visit to decide what is best for your child.