Depending on the procedure or operation, your child may be able to wear his or her own clothes to the operating theatre, but if not we will provide your child with a colourful gown. Your child will be able to keep underwear on.
Your child may travel to the anaesthetic room in a bed, on a trolley, walking or being carried.
Rooms used for operations
Anaesthetic room – the room next to the operating theatre where anaesthetics are usually administered.
Operating theatre – the room where surgery is performed. If your child is very small, or is having certain kinds of surgery, it may be safer to give the anaesthetic in the operating theatre rather than in the anaesthetic room.
Recovery room – a place near the operating theatre where children go after surgery until the effects of the anaesthetic drugs wear off.
In the anaesthetic room
A nurse from the ward will accompany you to the anaesthetic room. Your child will be able to take a toy or comforter.
If you wish, one parent will usually be welcome to stay with your child until he or she is unconscious. However, there are a few circumstances when this will not be possible - the anaesthetist will discuss this with you. It may be possible to give the anaesthetic while your child is sitting on your lap. Your child can either have an anaesthetic gas to breathe or an injection through a cannula (a thin plastic tube that is placed under the skin, usually on the back of the hand. A needle is used to put the cannula in, but is then immediately removed. A cannula can be left in place for hours or days so that drugs and fluids can be given without the need for further injections. Sometimes blood samples can be taken through a cannula.)
Some children prefer gas and some prefer injections. If both methods are safe for your child, you may be able to choose which is used.
Anaesthetic gases smell similar to felt-tip pens. The anaesthetist generally cups a hand over the child’s nose and mouth or uses a facemask to give the anaesthetic gas.
If the anaesthetic is given by gas, it will take a little while for your child to be anaesthetised. Your child may become restless as the gases take effect. A cannula will then be inserted when your child is asleep. If you have any questions, please ask the anaesthetist.
If an injection is used, your child will normally become unconscious very quickly indeed. Some parents may find this frightening, but don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal and the anaesthetist will explain what is happening.
What happens next?
Your child will be taken into the operating theatre to have the operation or investigation. The anaesthetist will monitor your child’s blood pressure, pulse, temperature and breathing closely throughout the procedure, ensuring that he or she is safe and fully unconscious. Anaesthetic gases and/or drugs given into a vein will be used to keep your child anaesthetised.
Most children go to a recovery room. Each child is cared for by a specialist nurse until he or she has regained consciousness and is comfortable enough to return to the ward.
You will be called to the recovery room when your child is waking up, or is awake, and can stay with them as they return to the ward. Some children may need to go to the Intensive Care Unit after their operation. This will be discussed with you beforehand if it is planned.