Yes, anesthesia, sedation and surgery are extremely safe and effective. Anesthesia is safer now than it has ever been. Advances in the training of clinicians as well as the use of safer medications have allowed even sick babies to undergo complex surgical and diagnostic procedures.
Despite this record of safety, scientists and physicians continue to look at the risks of all medicines that are used in infants and children.
Scientists have been investigating the effects of anesthetics on the developing brain of animals for more than twenty years.
While animals, who have long or repeated anesthesia, have problems with learning and behavior later in life, a single carefully administered anesthetic has not been found to be associated with these problems in children.
Many scientific studies are being done at this time to discover which children might be at special risk.
Parents should discuss all the risks and benefits of a diagnostic or surgical procedure with professionals well versed in the management of infants and children. There are many surgeries and procedures that treat life threatening or emergent conditions. There are others that should be done as soon as possible to ensure long-term health.
Ask your surgeon if the procedure can wait until your child is older than 3. They will know the risks of waiting on a recommended surgery.
Needed surgical or diagnostic procedures should not be avoided on the basis of current information.
Pain and stress are clearly known to be harmful to developing nervous systems and should be avoided.
Ask your anesthesiologist if local anesthesia or nerve blocks can be used for your child’s procedure; these may decrease exposure to anesthesia medications.
Pediatric Anesthesia professionals are trained to use the least harmful medications to avoid problems.
Pediatric surgical specialists know the importance of timely surgical management.
No, a difficult cut on the face may take a long time to repair well and will require your child to be very still. General anesthesia in the operating room will be safer and less risky than trying to sedate your child in the Emergency Department.
No sedative medications have been shown to be safer than any others.
All the medications used in the Emergency Department to sedate your child are in a similar class of medications as those used in general anesthesia.