General anesthesia is given either intravenously (IV) or by having your child breathe anesthetic gas through a mask. The airway is kept open with a breathing tube. The anesthetic includes inhaled drugs, muscle relaxants and pain medication.
Anesthesia professionals will monitor your child closely during surgery. Routine equipment will check on the heart's electrical activity, blood pressure, oxygen levels in the blood and breathing (measuring inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide concentrations). In addition, the anesthesiologist may use arterial and central lines to monitor continuous blood pressure and central venous pressure. An arterial line is like a regular IV, but placed in an artery rather than a vein. Similarly, a central line may be used to monitor central venous pressure.
To manage pain, the anesthesiologist may place an epidural catheter after your child is asleep. This thin tubing, placed in a space between the bones of the spine and the spinal cord, allows the physician to give pain medication continually, when indicated. Pain also may be controlled by giving medications such as morphine or fentanyl through the IV. Transfusion of blood and blood products may be required to replace blood lost during surgery.