Anesthesia and Kids

Should I be nervous about my child undergoing anesthesia?

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: Fortunately I haven’t had to go through this with my own son, but many parents have asked me if anesthesia, particularly repeated anesthetics, are injurious to their children. The answer is that presently we do not know. Recent animal data indicates that learning difficulties can be related to exposure to anesthetics but many, many very bright neurologically and psychologically normal children have been exposed to multiple anesthetics. Yet this remains anecdotal, and we cannot say of a surety that there is no detriment. Nevertheless, sometimes a procedure is needed that requires an anesthetic, and when such times arise, it’s best to identify an experienced, well-trained anesthesiologist.

Paul B. Langevin, MD, a dad of a 17-year-old son and a cardiac anesthesiologist and critical care doctor at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia.

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My two-year-old is having “pressure equalization” tubes put in his ear for chronic ear infections. Can I go back to the operating room with him until he’s asleep?

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: Nowadays, in most surgery centers, one parent is asked if they would like to accompany their small child to the operating room and stay until he or she is asleep by breathing anesthetic gases through a mask. Although this is sometimes more stressful for the parent, this can be very comforting for the child. And though it’s quite stressful, pediatric anesthesia is a very safe process today.

Once the child is asleep, the parent is escorted back to the waiting room, and the rest of the anesthesia management and surgery are performed.

 —Adam F. Dorin, MD, a father of three children, founder and president of America’s Medical Society, a board-certified anesthesiologist in San Diego County and the owner and medical director of the RiverViewMD Facility and Spa.  He is a Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves Medical Corps and a shareholder/partner in a large anesthesiology group in Southern California.

Q&As by Wyatt Myers