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Anesthesia - Frequently Asked Questions - Kids

1. What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia (ah-nus-thee-zhuh) is medicine that makes you have a special sleep so that you don't feel anything during your surgery.

2. How do I get the medicine?

A doctor called an anesthesiologist (an-us-thee-zee-ah-luh-jist) or sleep doctor,  will give you the medicine. Most children having surgery will need an intravenous (in-truh-vee-nus) or ‘IV’ for short. An IV is a tiny plastic straw that we place into a vein using a small needle, usually in your hand. The needle will not stay in your hand. The special sleep medicine will then go into your body through the little straw.

  • First some cream or cold spray will be put on your hand(s). This will help numb your skin so the needle won’t bother you too much. The sleep medicine will help you fall asleep very quickly.


  • You can breathe into a mask. The medicine can have a funny smell so drops that smell fruity are often added to make it smell better. As you breathe the medicine in, you will get sleepy. The IV will be started once you are asleep.

3. How do you know when I'm asleep?

The sleep doctor can tell you are asleep by watching you very closely and checking special machines used in the operating room.

4. Will I wake up during the surgery?

The sleep doctor is with you during your surgery to give you the amount of medicine you need to stay asleep.

5. When will I wake up?

As soon as your surgery is done, the sleep doctor stops giving you the medicine and you will start to wake up. When you wake up, you will be in a different room, called the recovery room. You will rest here for a while and then return to the unit, where your parents will be waiting for you.

6. Why can't I eat or drink before my surgery?

It is very important that you don't eat or drink before surgery because your stomach needs to be empty. During surgery, if there is anything in your stomach, it could go into your lungs or breathing tubes. This can make you very sick. After surgery, your nurse will let you know when you can eat or drink again.