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What is anesthesia used for?

Anesthesia is a medicine given during surgery or a procedure so that your child won't feel pain. It helps keep your child relaxed and calm during the procedure. The type of anesthesia your child has will depend on his medical history, any allergies he has to medicines, the results of tests and a physical exam, as well as the type of procedure that your child is having.

How does it work?

The main types of anesthesia are local, regional, and general.

  • Local anesthesia numbs the part of your child’s body where he will have the surgery. It is used for simple procedures, such as sewing up a cut. The medicine is usually given as one or more shots into the area. If the nose or mouth needs to be numbed, it may be done using nose drops or a spray.
  • Regional anesthesia numbs a larger area of the body than local anesthesia. It takes effect quickly and blocks pain. It may be used for surgeries below the waist, such as surgeries on the rectum, bladder, prostate, and legs. Major types of regional anesthesia are:
    • Spinal anesthesia, which is given through a needle in the spine. The drug takes effect quickly. It blocks pain in the lower body and keeps your child from moving.
    • Epidural anesthesia, which is also given through a needle in the spine. The dose is adjusted so that the nerves that carry pain signals are blocked, but your child is able to move.
    • Peripheral nerve block, which is given near a specific nerve or group of nerves. The pain is then blocked. This type of anesthesia is often used for procedures on the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face.
  • General anesthesia relaxes your child’s muscles and he will be asleep. It also keeps him from remembering the procedure. The anesthetic may be given through a vein (IV) or as a gas breathed in through a mask. Often both a gas and IV medicine are given.

    While your child is asleep, he will have a tube in his throat to help him breathe and to make sure he gets enough oxygen. The tube may be removed before your child wakes up after the surgery.

What else do I need to know about this medicine?

  • Many medicines have side effects. A side effect is a symptom or problem that is caused by the medicine. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what side effects the anesthetic or other medicines may cause and what you should do if your child has side effects.
  • Keep a list of your child’s medicines with you. List all of the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that your child takes. Tell all healthcare providers who treat your child about all of the products he is taking.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider:

  • How long it will take your child to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

If you have any questions, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information. Be sure to keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.3 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-11-03
Last reviewed: 2013-09-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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