Pediatric anesthesiology and its differences
Nowadays, anesthetics can be administered to children who have a fetal age of 24 weeks which means that they often weigh less than 500g. At a time when we can save children that are born prematurely, modern pediatric anesthesiology methods offer us a great helping hand. We use precisely the same anesthetics as we do with adults, but in entirely different doses and amounts.
The process of administering anesthesia and its subsequent monitoring is the same as with adults. This consists of a pre-anesthesia examination and the patients’ awakening, possibly accompanied by the administration of analgesics. Returning to a state of full consciousness with children takes longer than with adults. This is not because anesthesia impacts them differently, but because they are unable to understand and explain the cause of the loss of perception.
Anesthesia vs. Analgesia
Parents often confuse these two terms and are afraid of what could possibly happen to their children in the process. Anesthesia involves delivering medication that results in temporary loss of consciousness or local insensitivity. Analgesia involves the direct application of medication that relieves the pain. In general surgery, we often encounter both applications. The actual applications can also differ. Generally, this involves intravenous application using a cannula. Especially with children however, we encounter a combination of this with the inhalation of the sedatives using a breathing mask. An epidural involves the administration of an anesthetic using a catheter which is applied in the epidural space or nerves originating from the spinal cord.
Duration of anesthesia
Especially with children, it is never possible to estimate the exact progress during surgical procedures. With very small children, we are able to almost entirely avoid stress associated with the wait for the surgery. However, the child’s temporary separation from the mother can sometimes play a role. Children may react to this fact by crying. This is why a pharmacological administration of sedatives is employed to lower their stress. It is then followed by anesthesia in the operating room. Small procedures such as the removal of adenoids and tonsils, hernias etc. usually last no longer than 20 to 45 while being unconscious. However, the length of the anesthesia itself depends on the length of the procedure in question. An anesthesiologist is trained and able to keep the child safely unconscious throughout the entire procedure.