Dr Adrian R Lloyd-Thomas  Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist

Inhalation induction of anaesthesia

Anaesthetic agents (Nitrous Oxide, Volatile Anaesthetics) are medicines which are used to keep all patients anaesthetized for operations. Adults have anaesthesia induced by an injection and they then have anaesthesia maintained using these medicines. In babies, infants and young children (2 - 6 years inclusive), the thought and reality of starting anaesthesia as you would for an adult can be very frightening, so inhalational induction is normal. In children of 5 - 7 years of age I suggest they choose between inhalational induction and being treated like an adult with an intravenous induction. There is usually plenty of time to consider their choice, you might want to talk about it before they come to hospital. In terms of recovery, discharge time, likelihood of adverse effects etc.- it makes no difference which method is chosen to begin anaesthesia.

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How does it happen?

We will ask one of you to sit on a stool and hold your child on your lap. When they feel safe and secure in your arms, I will come towards the face with the anaesthesia mask. Over a period of about one minute the child will gradually fall off to sleep. You will notice a hydrocarbon smell (rather like a petrol station). As your child drops off to sleep, my assistants will help you and we will lift them from your lap onto the theatre bed. I will look after them from then onwards.  As children are going off to sleep and just at the point that they are becoming unconscious, they may start to move vigorously. This is a normal, short-lived phase of anaesthesia- please don't worry that something is going wrong. They are unaware of this movement.

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