The pediatric anesthesiologist is the perioperative physician (“peri-” meaning “all-around”) who provides medical care to each patient throughout their surgical experience.
Prior to Surgery
Prior to surgery, pediatric anesthesiologists evaluate a patient’s past medical and surgical history, evaluating for potential problems during the procedure. Anesthesiologists also counsel families on the risks and benefits of various types of anesthesia. The job of the pediatric anesthesiologist includes working with families to provide individualized care to each patient with the goal of providing the safest and most appropriate anesthetic experience.
In the Operating Room
In the operating room, pediatric anesthesiologists are responsible for the medical management and anesthetic care of children throughout the duration of the surgery. The role of the anesthesiologist in the operating room is to: 1) provide continual medical assessment of the patient; 2) monitor and control the patient’s vital life functions — heart rate and rhythm, breathing, blood pressure, body temperature and body fluid balance; and 3) control the patient’s level of pain and unconsciousness to make conditions ideal for a safe and successful surgery.
In the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (Recovery Room)
This is where children are transferred after surgery, allowing them to emerge fully from the effects of the anesthesia under the watchful eyes of skilled nursing personnel, with anesthesiologist consultation immediately available. While safety is the first priority during surgery, it is also true that the patient must be monitored and continually assessed while fully regaining consciousness. The anesthesiologist decides when the patient has recovered enough to be sent home following outpatient surgery or has been stabilized sufficiently to be moved to a regular room in the hospital.
For Cardiac Procedures
In many cases, anesthesiologists provide anesthesia during cardiac catheterizations procedures and minimally invasive cardiac correction procedures performed by cardiologists in the radiology suites of Stanford.
For Diagnostic Tests and Non-Surgical Procedures
As medical technologies have advanced, so has the need for anesthesiologists to become involved in caring for children during radiological imaging or scanning procedures, gastrointestinal procedures, and other non-surgical treatments that require a cooperative and motionless patient. We provide care for children undergoing these procedures, tailoring the level of sedation or anesthesia to each patient’s needs.
In addition to the patient’s pain being relieved or blocked entirely during a surgical procedure, it is also important to provide pain relief postoperatively for the patient’s comfort and well-being. After surgery, our anesthesiologists are involved in prescribing pain-relieving medication and techniques for many of the hospital’s surgical patients that are best for each individual child to maintain a level of comfort and to follow proper rest.
Because of their specialty training, anesthesiologists are uniquely qualified to prescribe and administer drug therapies for acute, chronic, and cancer pain.