Diagnostic imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scans, often require anesthesia when the patient is a child. Interventional procedures, such as guiding a needle to obtain a biopsy or placing a line or tube, usually require anesthesia in children.
Pediatric anesthesiologists are specially trained to work with children and families in these cases. Your child will be closely monitored throughout the procedure to make sure they remain safely asleep, so the health care team can complete its work quickly and effectively. The anesthesiology team will also address any concerns you may have before and after the procedure.
What to know before your child’s procedural sedation
To help us prepare for your child’s appointment and provide the best possible care for your child, we ask that you adhere to the following guidelines.
Review and follow dietary restrictions
When anesthesia is needed, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the procedure. Prior to the exam date, you will receive a phone call from a Rady Children’s Hospital staff member to discuss proper eating and drinking restrictions. These restrictions are known as NPO guidelines. It is very important to follow these instructions because serious medical problems can occur if there is any food or liquid in your child’s stomach during the sedation.
In order for your child’s stomach to be empty, we must wait:
- Three hours for clear liquids (water, sprite, apple juice)
- Five hours for breast milk
- Eight hours for all solid foods
Arrive 90 minutes early for your scheduled appointment
Just like arriving early for an airplane flight, the process (as illustrated) allows us to safely sedate and care for your child. It also helps keep our other patients on schedule.
Is sedation necessary?
If you think your child may not need sedation, you can test them at home. Ask your child to lie on a abed and freeze like a statue for 30 minutes. If they can do this without moving, they will likely not need sedation. If they move or wiggle even a little, they will likely need sedation.