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The hospital can be a scary place, no matter your age. Medical procedures and tests can cause fear and stress, especially for kids. At WVU Medicine Children’s, we’re committed to keeping your little one calm and relaxed, ensuring the best possible outcome during a diagnostic procedure or treatment.

Sedation helps block pain and reduce anxiety. It can range from mild to deep, depending on your child’s needs. The care we provide is always done safely in a family-centered, welcoming environment. Our pediatric sedation team is made up of experienced pediatric anesthesiologists, critical care medicine specialists, nurses, and child life specialists. We work together to keep your child calm and healthy.

Procedures That May Require Sedation

Not all tests and procedures require sedation. It’s usually needed for procedures that may be painful or that require your child to be absolutely still. For example, sedation for an MRI can help us get clear, accurate images that can help the physician make a correct diagnosis.

Sedation can be used for many procedures like:

  • Biopsies
  • Bone marrow aspiration
  • Central line catheter placement
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT scan
  • Dental exams
  • Echocardiography
  • Endoscopy
  • Eye exams
  • Interventional radiology procedures
  • Joint injections
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Minor surgery
  • MRI
  • Nuclear medicine testing
  • PET scan
  • Radiation
  • Wound care

Answers to Questions About Pediatric Sedation

When your child needs medical treatment, it’s stressful for you as well. We want you to feel comfortable and at ease with your child’s sedation plan. We will always take the time to answer your questions.

Is sedation the same as general anesthesia?

No. Sedation and general anesthesia are both ways to block pain, anxiety, and level of consciousness, but they aren’t the same. During general anesthesia, the patient is unconscious and doesn’t respond to sounds or touch. Sedation, on the other hand, is more like sleep. The person is usually unaware of surroundings, but may respond to stimuli. Sedation can be mild, moderate, or deep. The level of sedation for your child will depend on their age, health, and the type of procedure they need.

Will I always be informed if my child needs sedation?

Yes. We will always let you know if your child will need sedation. In some cases, sedation may be optional. For other procedures, sedation is necessary. The care team will tell you how to prepare and what to expect.

How is sedation administered?

Sedation is usually given by a pediatric anesthesiologist, critical care specialist, or a trained sedation nurse. Sedation is administered by mouth or through an IV. Your child may take a mild sedative or pain medication before getting an IV. We will monitor your child throughout the procedure to ensure safety.

Child life specialists can help make the process of receiving sedation less stressful. They distract your child with toys, books, sounds, pictures, and videos.

What are the side effects of sedation in a child?

Your child may be groggy or tired after sedation. They will be monitored closely after the procedure to make sure no serious side effects occur. In rare cases, sedation can cause nausea or vomiting.

What if my child has special needs?

If your child has autism, Down’s syndrome, or has other special needs, we can help ensure a safe sedation experience. Child life specialists will help you with pre-sedation planning. You can tell them about any fears or triggers of which we should be aware. We can also use the same comfort strategies you use at home to create a more calming environment for your child.


Preparing your child for pediatric sedation

Please arrive 45 minutes before your appointment time and check in at your doctor’s office . A staff member will bring you to the sedation area and introduce your child’s care team.

We recommend at least one adult accompany your child to the procedure. If your child is age five or younger, we recommend two adults accompany your child to ensure a safe trip home.

Once the sedation process begins, we will escort you to the waiting area until the procedure is complete. Next, we’ll bring you back to the room, so that you can be next to your child when they wake up.

To ensure your child’s safety, we have very specific diet restrictions the day before and the day of sedation:

Infants 0-12 months of age

  • Six hours before – stop all formulas
  • Four hours before – stop breast milk
  • Two hours before – stop all clear liquids

Children 13 months and older

  • Eight hours before – stop all solid foods
  • Six hours before – stop all formulas
  • Four hours before – stop breast milk
  • Two hours before – stop all clear liquids

Having an empty stomach is important for your child’s safety to prevent aspiration. Your child’s appointment will be rescheduled if you have not followed the specified instructions.

Fever or Illness If your child has been ill with a fever or cold symptoms for the past two weeks, please call our scheduler at 304-293-1017. We may need to reschedule your child’s sedation and procedure.

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