Kids Health Info

Sedation for procedures 1: About sedation

  • What is sedation for procedures?

    Sedation is when a medicine is given to children to help them feel calm or sleepy. This medicine can be taken as a drink, breathing or by injection. It may make your child feel sleepy and forget the procedure.

    Reasons for having sedation

    Your child may become distressed or have pain when having certain tests or treatment. Procedural sedation (sedation for procedures) is given to reduce your child's anxiety. Some sedation also helps with pain. The procedures can then be done without causing so much distress to you or your child.

    Permission to give sedation

    As the parent or care-giver you will be asked for permission before your child is given sedation. You need to understand the reasons for sedation and the risks as explained in this factsheet.

    What to expect during sedation for a procedure

    1.We will ask you questions about your child's health.

    • Make sure you tell your doctor or nurse about any allergies or previous problems your child or family members have had with anaesthetics or sedation.
    • Some children may have allergies to the medicine used for sedation. This may need to be treated with different medicine.

    2.Sometimes children may have some pain

    • If your child needs sedation by IV (intravenous) injection, staff may put 'numbing cream' on their skin to reduce the pain of the injection.
    • Your child may also be given pain relief medicine before, during or after the procedure.

    3.Medicine for sedation can make children feel sick or vomit

    • Your child may have to stop eating or drinking for several hours (called 'fasting') before the sedation is given to decrease the chance of vomiting when under sedation.
    • Very rarely, children may breathe the vomit into their lungs. This needs extra treatment.

    4.Staff carefully check your child's breathing during the procedure.

    • Your child may be given some oxygen through a mask.

    5.Sometimes complications can happen

    • Sometimes children become too sleepy and need extra oxygen through a breathing tube.
    • Sometimes sedation does not work properly and extra medicine or treatment needs to be given.
    • Sedation may be given in a special room with extra equipment.

    6.Children are watched by trained staff after the procedure.

    • Your child may have some simple machines attached to monitor their heart rate (pulse) and oxygen levels.
    • If your child is not staying in hospital (ie you are in Emergency Department or Outpatients), for your child's safety, ONLY take them home when staff tell you it is safe to. Do not take your child home until you are told you can.

    7.There are things you can do to help your child during sedation.

    • These are explained in Part 3 of the series 'Sedation for procedures'.

    For more information

    Please read all factsheets in the series 'Sedation for procedures':

    This fact sheet produced by The Emergency Department in consultation with the Department of Anaesthesia and the Pain Management Service at the Royal Children's Hospital. First upload: July 2005.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.