Understanding Anesthesia


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Each year, the pediatric anesthesiologists at Children’s Hospital Colorado carry out more than 27,000 anesthetic procedures. All they do is treat kids.

How we use anesthesia

Anesthesia is a medicine that causes a sleep-like state

The anesthesiologist will give anesthesia to your child continuously during the surgery/procedure. General anesthesia helps your child fall into a deep, sleep-like state that protects him or her from pain. Depending on the type of surgery/procedure, your anesthesiologist may talk to you about other types of anesthesia, such as an epidural or a nerve block.

In some cases, you may stay with your child during the beginning of anesthesia

Induction is the first two-to-three minutes of general anesthesia. If your child is over 1 year old, you may be able to be with him or her during induction to help him or her with the process. The surgery/procedure team will consider factors like your child’s age, previous health history, the type of the surgery/procedure and your comfort level to allow you in the room. Someone will talk with you about other coping mechanisms if you cannot be there. Your anesthesiologist can help decide if you should be there.

Specialty-trained pediatric anesthesiologists help keep your child safe

Children react to anesthesia differently than adults. At Children’s Hospital Colorado, all anesthesiologists are specialty trained in pediatric anesthesia. During the entire surgery/procedure, someone from the anesthesiology team will check your child’s blood pressure, heartbeat, and oxygen levels. An attending anesthesiologist leads the anesthesiology team, which may consist of fellows, residents, and anesthetists (anesthesia assistants or nurse anesthetists). You will meet your anesthesiology team before the surgery/procedure and will have a chance to ask questions.

Common side effects of anesthesia

  • Sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of coordination
  • Acting "out of sorts"

These side effects are not harmful and will go away within a few hours or a few days.

There is risk, but it is very small

Reactions to anesthesia are very rare. The most severe – and the rarest – can be life threatening. Children’s Hospital Colorado is one of the top 10 pediatric hospitals in the nation. Our anesthesiology team members have the skills and experience to keep your child as safe as possible.

Read the pre-surgery eating instructions.

For questions, call the Anesthesiology Department at 720-777-6226