Information for Parents

Our experts provide anesthesia to your child so they will not feel discomfort during painful procedures. We may also use anesthesia if the doctor requests it to help your child stay still during an imaging scan (e.g., computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Our experts select the type of anesthesia, drugs, and administration method based on the procedure/study planned and your child’s medical condition.

Questions Your Anesthesiologist May Ask

We may ask you and your child questions about their medical history to determine the most appropriate choice. These questions may include:

  • How old is your child?
  • What procedure is your child coming for?
  • Why does your child need this procedure?
  • Does your child have any other medical problems, such as asthma or a heart murmur?
  • Has your child recently had or currently have a cold?
  • Did your child have surgery previously? What type?
  • Did your child or anyone in the family have a problem with anesthesia in the past?
  • Does your child have any allergies to medications?
  • Is your child taking any medications at the present time?
  • When was the last time your child had anything to eat or drink?

If your child is less than two years old, we may ask:

  • Was your child the product of a full-term pregnancy?
  • If not, at how many weeks did you deliver?
  • Did your child have any medical problems after birth?

Pre-Anesthesia Eating and Drinking Guidelines

If your child is going to have anesthesia, do not let them eat or drink beforehand. Your doctor will tell you the exact guidelines for your child’s age and the type of food they eat. If patients eat or drink too close to when we administer anesthesia, they could end up choking or developing a type of pneumonia called aspiration pneumonitis. Children who develop this condition may require a breathing tube and a breathing machine in the intensive care unit. This type of pneumonia may be life-threatening. If you tell us that your child has had something to eat or drink, we may need to postpone the procedure.

The guidelines at The Mount Sinai Hospital, by type of food, are:

  • Formula, Milk, and Solids
    • Under age three: None within six hours of the procedure.
    • Three years of age and older: None within eight hours of the surgery.
  • Breast Milk: None within four hours of surgery.
  • Clear Liquids: None within two hours before surgery. Clear liquids include water, Pedialyte, tea, apple juice, jello without fruit, and clear broth.
    • Fruit juice with pulp is not allowed.

These guidelines apply only to The Mount Sinai Hospital. Other hospitals may use different guidelines.

Parents in the Operating Room

At The Mount Sinai Hospital and at the anesthesiologist’s discretion, children who are at least eight months old may have one parent with them in the operating room until the child starts to receive anesthesia. We will make this decision after interviewing the parents and examining the child. When appropriate, one parent may be allowed inside to avoid separation anxiety and to comfort the child. Parents who are anxious and/or crying may make the child more anxious and make it more difficult to initiate anesthesia. If you do not feel comfortable coming into the operating room, or you think you will not be able to provide the necessary support, you do not need to come in. It is optional. We also discourage any pregnant parent from entering the operating room for their own safety.

The anesthesiologist will tell you and your child what to expect during the start of anesthesia. Once the child is asleep, the surgical resident or operating room nurse will escort you out of the operating room. No parent can stay in the operating room during the surgical procedure. You must leave the operating room whenever the anesthesiologist asks you to do so.