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Frequently asked questions on anesthesia
Who is an anesthesiologist and why do we need this type of doctor surgery?
An anesthesiologist (sleep doctor) is a medical doctor who specializes in anesthesia, a field of medicine that helps patients deal with pain and keeps patients asleep during surgery. Anesthesiologists at the Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) have had special training to take care of children.
Will my child and I meet the anesthesiologist before the surgery?
Yes. Before entering the operating room you will talk with the anesthesiologist, the surgeon and the nurse who are going to be in the room during the procedure. They will ask you a few questions about your child to make sure everything is ok.
How come my child is not allowed to eat or drink before surgery?
It is very important that your child’s stomach is empty before receiving an anesthesia. This is called fasting. While having anesthesia, the body’s reflexes are not as good, so any food or liquid in the stomach could go into the lungs. This is called aspiration. This is dangerous so we prevent this from happening by not eating.
Why is aspiration bad?
When aspiration occurs the contents from the stomach go into the lungs. Depending on the size of the food particles and acid level (pH), these can cause damage to the lung tissues block the absorption of oxygen. This is a very serious problem and if it happens, the patient may need to go to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Can my child chew gum or suck on hard candy while waiting for surgery?
No, gum and hard candy are considered a light meal. You must fast for at least six hours.
How will my child be put to sleep?
The anesthesiologist will put a mask over your child’s face. and he Your child will start breathing laughing gas to relax him, and then sleeping gas, which will put him to sleep. Once your child is asleep a little tube (an intravenous), is put in a vein to give medications for pain and/or vomiting, and to give fluids. However, there are patients who are afraid of masks or have certain diseases, i.e. reflux, they cannot have a mask over their face, so we can put a cream on their hands that freezes the skin this way they won’t feel the intravenous needle.
Before surgery you can discuss both methods with your anesthesiologist and you’ll be able to decide on the best option for your child.
What can I do to help my child relax before surgery?
Studies have shown that preparation is the best way to help your child cope with surgery. We encourage you to talk to your child about his surgery and answer any questions he may have.
If you need more information you can consult these books or other similar books:
"L'operation de Lucas" par Stephan Boonen et Birgitte Vangehuchten (Editions Enfant Québec) ISBN 978-2-923347-58-5
"Franklin goes to the Hospital" by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark (Kids Can Press) ISBN 1-55074-732-7. This book is available in the MCH Family Resource Library (Rm. C-542). You can reserve the book by calling 514-412-4400, x22382 or visiting the library web site at www.mchfamilylibrary.ca.
Where will my child go after the surgery finished?
Your child will be transferred to the Recovery Room. This is where patients wake up after the procedure. Patients are monitored in the Recovery Room by the nurses until they are ready to go to their room at the hospital or go home.
You will receive more information about care after surgery from the nurse in the Recovery Room.
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