Is Anesthesia Safe For Children?

As the Chief of Anesthesiology at Texas Children’s Hospital, I am well aware of the raised public awareness about the possible effects of anesthesia on childhood neurological development. I believe it is important for all parents to understand the facts around this issue so that you can feel confident about entrusting your children to our care.

The question of anesthetic effect on neurodevelopment has been raised more and more frequently over the past few years. To answer this, two recent studies have been conducted, including one at our Texas Children’s Heart Center, to learn more about this issue. We found that the amount of anesthesia and sedation received in the perioperative period for congenital heart surgery in neonates DOES NOT affect neurological outcomes (based on testing at 12-24 months of age). Two additional studies are currently underway as well.

At Texas Children’s, over 32,000 patients undergo anesthesia and sedation every year. Our practice has been and always will be to treat each child as an individual, and to give that child the right anesthesia drugs and doses, to ensure safe and successful completion of the surgery.

Because children are so small, we have specially-trained staff dedicated to anesthetizing children — and significant complications are very rare. If you’re interested in learning more details, I encourage you to visit the Smart Tots website. You can also ask a question below and I will answer them as best I can.

Please know that nothing is more important to Texas Children’s Hospital than the safety and health of the children it is our privilege to treat every day. We also believe it is important to have an open and honest dialogue with our families and I hope this blog entry will help foster such a conversation.


About Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief

I am the Anesthesiologist-in-Chief at Texas Children’s Hospital, and professor and vice chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Baylor College of Medicine. I have authored over 70 publications and 30 book chapters, and I am the editor of two major textbooks on pediatric anesthesiology. I have held a number of national leadership positions, including as founding president of the Congenital Cardiac Anesthesia Society. My research is partly funded by the National Institutes of Health, and focuses on the effects of anesthesia and surgery on the developing central nervous system. I am proud to lead a department at the cutting edge of pediatric anesthesiology where patients are our focus.
Posted in Anesthesiology, Parenting, Surgery

38 Responses to Is Anesthesia Safe For Children?

  1. Jennifer Flinn says:

    Dr. Andropoulos,

    My daughter is 4 and has a white matter brain injury from prematurity. She has had to undergo anesthesia on 5 occasions since her birth. I am told that children metabolize anesthesia quite quickly and it does not stay in their system long after adminstration nor does it build up over time. Is this true? Could she be effected more based on her injury? I am told that radiation such as X-ray and MRI are more harmful over a lifespan then anesthesia. I also wonder if the more it is adminstered, the more likely a side-effect? I appreciate your time and was so happy to see your blog as this is such a hard thing for parents to put their children through.

    Jennifer Flinn

    • Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos, Chief of Anesthesiology says:

      Dear Ms. Flinn-

      These are excellent questions. Both the anesthesia gas, and any medications given by vein, are eliminated by the body in minutes or hours after anesthesia, so the medications do not build up over time. Premature infants do have this type of brain problem frequently; there is not any information telling us that anesthesia is more of a risk in these patients.

      What we do know is that many premature babies need anesthesia, often more than once, for surgery or other procedures that are very important to improve their overall health, so I would not be concerned about your baby needing several anesthetics. X-rays are of course needed often in premature infants, and are only done when physicians need important information about the baby. MRI is not an x-ray, but pictures made in a magnetic field, and babies may need sedation for this study to hold very still to get the best pictures. The anesthesia also is only done when absolutely necessary, and is very important to prevent pain from surgery.

  2. Autumn Selman says:

    Since you refer to the above mentioned studies, maybe you might forward me a copy to review. My son was treated for Tetralogy of Falot and does have some neurological issues. I was not advised of, referred to , or included in these studies. When seeking treatment for my son, i was told by Pat, Dr. Zeller’s assistant, to “go somewhere else” for treatment. Perhaps your studies may offer some insight.
    By the way, feel free to verify my statement in the patient advacocy logs if you wish.

    Autumn Selman

    • Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos, Chief of Anesthesiology says:

      Dear Ms. Selman:

      Recent studies over the past decade or so have shown us that some patients with congenital heart disease, including Tetralogy of Fallot, do have some neurodevelopmental issues. We now know that there is a wide variety of causes, and at times it is difficult to tell in an individual patient what exactly the reason is for any problems. Our own research, and that of others has shown us that sometimes the growth and development of the brain in infants with congenital heart disease is not normal, and that often this problem starts in utero because of the heart defect.

      This is not true for all babies. What our study did show is that the size of the doses of anesthetic and sedative agents in newborns undergoing open heart surgery did not affect their neurodevelopmental status at age 12 months. These studies have only been offered to newborns undergoing open heart surgery at TCH, and normally Tetralogy of Fallot patients are not treated this way. Some Tetralogy of Fallot patients also have chromosome changes that may cause neurodevelopmental problems.

      I would advise any parent of a child with congenital heart disease, or other complicated medical problem, in whom there is concern about neurodevelopment, to go to their pediatrician and request a formal evaluation by a team of experts. This is something we can certainly offer at TCH. Then, if there are problem areas identified, a specific treatment plan for the child can be recommended by these experts.

  3. Sara says:

    Dr. Andropoulos,

    Thank you for posting on this subject. We came across the FDA’s announcement of the Smart Tots panel as we were researching anesthesia risks. Our 6 month old daughter is scheduled to have a MAG-3 renal scan in two weeks and we were told that she would be put under anesthesia for the scan. She was diagnosed with mild to moderate unilateral hydronephrosis prenatally and her urologist ordered the MAG-3 scan in order to obtain a baseline kidney function.

    We are VERY concerned about her exposure to anesthesia, particularly because of the amount of time she will have to be under (45 minutes to an hour) and also because she will almost certainly have to have more than one scan over the next few years. My question for you relates to the type of anesthesia/sedation used on infants, particularly during scans and MRI procedures. The 2009 Mayo clinic study that linked anesthesia in infants and learning disabilities looked at Halothane and Nitrous Oxide. The Mayo clinic website states that although Halothane is not really being used any longer, current anesthetic drugs have a similar affect. I assume that would include Propofol, which is the drug that we were told was going to be used on our daughter. Have sedative drugs like Chlorolhydrate been studied for their affect on brain development? We are wondering if this might be a better option than Propofol for our daughter.

    (I’ve read that Chlorolhydrate and other sedatives aren’t used as much because they cannot be controlled like anesthesia and there is some risk that it wears off before the end of the procedure (particularly for the MAG-3). However, I read an article about a study done by St. Christopher’s Hospital that Chlorolhydrate IS effective on children under 48 months old.).

    Thank you for allowing me to post this concern and I look forward to your insight.

    Sara McMahon

    • Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos, Chief of Anesthesiology says:

      Dear Ms. McMahon:

      Thank you for the thoughtful question about these important issues. The renal scan is of course a very important test to determine kidney function so your daughter’s doctors can plan treatment to preserve kidney function as much as possible. To acquire the best possible images, the patient does have to be absolutely still for about 45 minutes. Infants and young children will require sedation for this.

      You are correct in that at TCH, propofol is normally used for sedation. Propofol works in a similar way to most of the other anesthetics, including all anesthetic gases, to produce anesthesia by binding to a certain type of receptor in the brain. Chloral hydrate and most other sedatives also work in a similar way, so none of the drugs used for sedation for a renal scan is very different. What I can say is that this is an important test, and because it is not really painful, a relatively small dose of propofol is normally needed, and your anesthesiologist will be highly skilled, and will give just the right dose of sedation for your daughter. He/she will monitor breathing, heart beat and blood pressure very carefully. The real advantage of propofol is that after the procedure is over, the medication is turned off, your baby will wake up quickly, and the drug rapidly eliminated from her body. Normally, patients are completely back to their normal selves in less than an hour, and are discharged home with a normal diet and activity shortly after.

      There is no evidence that a brief sedation has any effect on neurodevelopment and so I would not worry about having this test, which is so important for your daughter’s overall health. If she needs additional scans or other procedures, your anesthesiologist will carefully evaluate her current status at that time and choose an anesthetic plan that is best for her. Again, the most important point is that she needs these tests to plan the very best course of treatment for her kidney problem.

  4. Edward says:

    Dr. Andropoulos,

    I have a few questions:

    My son had ear tubes put in at 11 months due to ear infections (agents were nitrous oxide and sevoflurane). The entire procedure was completed in 15 minutes.When he was referred for surgery, he was evaluated by his pediatrician and seemed to be on track with milestones. He had already started saying “mama” for example. A few weeks after surgery, he stopped responding to his name, and became quite withdrawn (a few people thought he was deaf). He also didn’t learn to point until quite late, and he also lost the limited vocabulary he had developed at 18 months. The ear tubes had been examined by the ENT and by his pediatrician, and were found to be working perfectly, and his hearing was tested and found to be fine, post-procedure. Although he is catching up quickly at age 27 months (with some speech therapy), and he seems to be a bright child in other respects, we are quite worried that our decision to let him undergo the procedure could have altered his development, or could result in subtle life-long mental impairment.

    The obvious explanation for his delayed speech is the fluid he had in his ears as an infant, but there remains a nagging doubt that the speech delay could have been caused by anesthesia. Do you think that this is likely?

    He has also had the usual toddler bumps and bruises to his head, but he seems to recover quite slowly from these, forgetting some words on occasion – could anesthesia result in reduced recovery capacity from what would otherwise be “normal” head trauma in toddlers?

    At a follow up appointment with the ENT who did the surgery, he said that he was aware of the risk of developmental problems, but that if any risk existed, it affected children under the age of six months. Is this accurate?

    Our son has trouble breathing through his nose at night, but after reading about the possible development risks of multiple anesthesia exposures, we are not keen on taking him for an exam, in case he needs additional surgery on his adenoids and tonsils. Should we be wary of surgery?

    • Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos, Chief of Anesthesiology says:

      Dear Edward:

      These are common and important questions. There is no evidence that a brief exposure to anesthetic agents has any effect on neurodevelopment, including speech and language, so the anesthetic would not be the cause of the delay in any milestones. I am certainly pleased that he is catching up. If your son’s ENT surgeon believes that his breathing is impaired by enlarged adenoids or tonsils, and recommends surgery, then he should have the surgery and you should not be concerned that the anesthesia will have effects on his further development. These problems are common in young children, and if it is necessary to have the procedure done, the health benefits to your son of having the surgery far outweigh any risks of the anesthesia itself.

      Our anesthesiologists at TCH are specially trained and very experienced at providing anesthesia for these ENT procedures, and they evaluate each patient individually and decide on the best anesthetic for that child. So I would not be concerned if it is necessary to undergo another anesthetic for your son.

      • Edward says:

        In the interests of accuracy, I need to clarify and update my previous post from March.

        He did have a mild speech delay, although a lot of it may have been due to shyness in front of other people, who expressed concern, and magnified our own doubts as parents. Looking back, I don’t think his speech delay was hugely significant and we were comparing him to one particular, rather verbal child. Also he had a non-English speaking caregiver, and he was technically meeting his milestones on time, but not talking a lot.

        The “speech therapy” I mentioned was actually more evaluations, rather than active intervention from the therapist. My wife hadn’t explained it to me in detail at the time.

        He just turned 3, and talking quite a lot suddenly. He could name 12+ colours from 2.5 years and recognize and name all alphabets, shapes and numbers.

        We didn’t let him go for further surgeries. We avoided the ENT. Not worth the (as yet unquantified) risk. His breathing problem resolved itself.

        I still hope that this issue is resolved speedily for our peace of mind, and that of other parents.

  5. Holly Hubbard says:

    Dr. Andropoulos, My 9 year old son is a former preemie who had numerous surgeries when he was a baby. His only effect of prematurity is his vision. He has had numerous eye surgeries when he was small and due to that his eye doctor thinks it is best to check his vision under anesthesia. My concern is, is there such a thing as being under anesthesia too much? He has been “under” more than most in their lifetime and we want to make sure that being under anesthesia multiple times won’t hurt his body now or in the long run.

    • Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos, Chief of Anesthesiology says:

      Dear Ms. Hubbard —

      This is an important question. Many premature babies do need surgery, and must of course have anesthesia for the surgery. The eye surgeries, in particular, are very important to help his vision be the best it can when he is older. The possible concerns that anesthesiologists have about the effects of anesthesia seem to be most important in very young infants, at the time when the brain is growing and developing very fast. We believe that after age 2 to 3 years, when the growth of the brain is less, that any worries about anesthesia’s effects are less. And remember, we really do not know for sure yet if anesthesia has any adverse effects at all.

      The most important thing for you to know is that your son has done as well as he can, in large part because of the surgeries, and anesthesia he had as a small baby. If his eye doctor believes it is best to have your son under anesthesia for the best possible eye examination, I would not worry that he has had too many anesthetics. The benefit of having accurate, up to date information about your son’s vision far outweighs any possible small risk of the anesthesia. The eye exam is usually fairly brief, and the levels of anesthesia needed are not high.

      And, your son’s anesthesia at Texas Children’s Hospital will be given by our team of pediatric anesthesiologists, who design just the right anesthetic for each child, at the right dose. So, I would not be concerned that an anesthetic for your son’s eye exam will have any long term effects.

  6. Ayesha says:

    What about anesthesia in 2 months old? Small surgery to fix communicating hydrocele? Or shall we wait till my baby is 1 year old?

  7. Nick says:

    Hi Dr Andropoulos ti kanis? I have a few questions. My 7 month old son is scheduled for hypospadias surgery within the next month or so. I was wondering what you recommend as best age to do the surgery in terms of Anaesthesia and is there a specific weight or growth percentage he needs to achieve in terms of him being ready for the surgery? Also what is the most likely anaesthetic they will use for such an operation and are there any bad side effects? Thanks a lot!

  8. Pushpa says:

    Hi Doctor. My 2 month son is recovering from pneumonia, but last week doctors found that my son’s right lungs have been collapsed due to thick mucuous. Sir for past five days doctors are doing nebulisation and physiotheraphy but no improvement. Hence dey are going for broncoscopy and will use Anaesthesia for 20-25 mins. Doctor my son is a heart patient. He has ASD 6mm and VSD 8.5 mm for which we have to go for another surgery and again doctors will use Anaesthesia on my son. My concern is that such usage would cause any health problems to my son in future whether mentally of physically. Please advise Sir. Thank u

  9. Amr says:

    Hello Dr,
    My son is three month old and is diagnosed with chordee, is it safe to do the surgery on him at this age from anesthesia point of view ? if not what is the recommended age?

    • Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, M.D., M.H.C.M., Anesthesiologist-in-Chief says:

      Dear Amr:

      This is a very good question. While we are concerned about the possible effects of the anesthetic on brain development in infants and young children, it is important to know that necessary surgery, intended to improve a condition in the child (virtually always the case in children) should proceed at the scheduled time. Talk to your child’s surgeon about this question. Generally, the earlier that a condition like chordee is treated, the better the long term outcome, so almost always surgery should go ahead as scheduled. The other point to be made is that even if exposure to anesthesia turns out to be a problem (and we do not know for sure if it is yet), we do not know the age range when it would no longer be a problem. So, waiting until your son is older might not make any difference to brain development, but his chordee could get worse with less chance of a good outcome from the surgery. The last point is that the standard anesthesia gases like sevoflurane are the best and safest option we have at this point for infants for this type of surgery.

      You should speak to your anesthesiologist and surgeon about pain relief methods for chordee surgery like a caudal block, or penile nerve block, which can be done after your son is asleep but before the surgery starts. This approach has several benefits: First, less anesthetic gas can be used during the surgery, which may possibly be safer; second, your son will have good pain relief for a few hours after the surgery because the nerves leading to the surgical site are numbed; and third, he will wake up from the anesthetic faster because of the lower dose of anesthetic gas. One final point to be made: we would recommend making sure your anesthesiologist has training and experience in pediatric anesthesia, because anesthetizing young infants for any surgery is very different compared to older children or adults, and you want to be sure your son is as safe as possible.

      Dean B. Andropoulos, M.D., M.H.C.M.
      Anesthesiologist-in-Chief, Texas Children’s Hospital

  10. Jessica Rincon says:

    Hi. Dr. I have a question about my 7 month old daughter going under anesthesia for 45 min to an hour. The reason why is because according to her doctor her head is smaller by a couple inches than it should be. So in August she had some x-rays done to make sure her skull was still open for her brain to have space to grow. The next few days I called back for the results and they told me they were normal. In November I received a phone call and her pediatrician had ordered for her to have an MRI done under anesthesia to have very good details of her brain. My 2 questions are
    #1. Is the anesthesia safe for my 7 month old?
    #2. Is it truly necessary for her to have her brain checked because her head is small just by a couple of inches?

    • Glenna says:

      I know this was last year but I’m currently in the exact same situation except my baby is 4 months old. I too have the same questions. If you don’t mind me asking, what were his results?


    Hi Dr. I am India, I have a question on my 2 year boy. My boy had a tooth decay. Now he got a broose on his face due to infection. Dr.’s are suggesting anesthesia, for root canal. We are afraid of the consequences ? please suggest can we go for root canal treatment or not for my 2 year old boy.

  12. Anna says:

    My two year old son needs to have pyeloplasty to treat his hydronephrosis. We are faced with two options for surgery: robotic and open surgery. With the robotic surgery, the procedure would cause a much smaller scar and less pain. With the open surgery, the recovery would be longer and a much larger scar would result. The success rates for both surgeries are similar. Due to the location of the robot (the robot is located in an adjoining hospital so they would need to transfer my son between hospitals while under anesthesia), my son would be under anesthesia for 2 1/2 hours for the robotic surgery versus 45 minutes for the open surgery. What are the potential consequences from the increased time under anesthesia? Thank you.

    • Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, M.D., M.H.C.M., Anesthesiologist-in-Chief says:

      Dear Anna:

      This is a really important question. Robotic surgery is performed more and more frequently in children, especially for urological procedures such as the one your son needs. The advantages, as you correctly state, are smaller incisions, and often less pain and shorter time in the hospital and faster recovery. Sometimes, however, the robotic surgery may take longer and require more time under anesthesia. Adding a transport under anesthesia to an adjoining hospital increases the time under anesthesia.

      Your son of course needs the surgery and should have the best procedure to cause the least pain and shorter recovery. With regard to the duration of anesthesia, we do not know for absolute certain in infants and young children that 2 ½ hours vs. 45 minutes is worse in terms of any long term adverse effects on neurobehavioral outcomes. We also do not know for sure yet if anesthetic exposure really does increase risk for these problems, but we are concerned that this is possible. We think that lowering the dose of anesthetic gas might be better for long-term outcome, but again this has not been proven.

      Ways to lower the dose include shorter duration of anesthesia, or a lower dose of the anesthetic for a longer procedure. For the longer robotic surgery anesthetic, ways to lower the dose of sevoflurane, the common anesthetic gas that we are concerned might increase risk of longer term problems, include: 1. Using caudal or epidural anesthesia along with the general anesthesia during the case; 2. using a short acting morphine-like medication during the case such as fentanyl or remifentanil, or 3. using intravenous dexmedetomidine during the case, which will also lower the dose of sevoflurane needed. Dexmedetomidine does not cause brain problems in animal models of anesthesia; so we think it could possibly be very useful in children although this has not been proven yet. I would discuss these options with your son’s anesthesiologist.

      There also could potentially be other surgical options, to discuss with your surgeon. These procedures can often be performed laparoscopically, which means through a telescope with small incisions, but the equipment is not as complicated as the surgical robot; this may save some time under anesthesia. Finally, you could inquire how long the transport back and forth from the other hospital will require under anesthesia; if it is a long time, say more than 30 minutes, ask if there is an option to do the surgery at another children’s hospital where the robot is located in the operating room. If you choose to stay at this hospital ask if it is possible to have your son go to sleep in the same operating room where the robot is located.

  13. makieta byrd says:

    Hi dr. I have a 1 yr old premature grandson who weight was 1 lb and 4 Oz at birth he had to go to surgery for his testicles they put him under anastasia to do the surgery. He went to surgery last Tuesday(2-3-2015) it was outpatient but when we got him home that night he was in a lot of pain so Wednesday He slept all day he might have woke up about 30min that whole day he took a bottle but threw it back up so I took him back to the hospital cause he sleep all day Thursday, Friday so they kept him friday they put a drip in his arm cause all the sleeping he’s doing he’s not taking a bottle cause it comes right back up Ok Saturday they sent him back home again and he’s still doing the sleeping and not holding his liquid down so the question I am trying to ask do he supposed to sleep from Wednesday to today(2-8-2015) I am so concern how long does the anastasia suppose to last and could the dr gave him to much anastasia that’s making him sleep so much. Just a concern grandma

  14. MCH says:

    Dear Dr.,
    My son (13 months) has had a bump in his left wrist for about 2 weeks now. We’ve done X-rays and Eco confirming that the bump is not linked to the bone nor any ligaments or tendons, and it doesn’t hurt him at all. It seems to be ganglion cyst, but our Ped cannot confirm this until the MRI, so our Ped would like to have a MRI with general anaesthesia to see more clearly whats inside.

    My concern is the anaesthesia part, have there been any examples of an MRI done without anaesthesia? What are the risks involved ? are there any other alternatives other than the MRI for the cyst?

  15. Pat says:

    My 2 month grandson is having a procedure done like a endonoscopy through his nose, so they can see his throat so I want to make sure if giving him anesthesia is ok. and how long the effect is going to take on him. thank you

  16. Brittany Puckett says:

    My son is 2 months old, he was not circumcised at birth due to him being bigger, (10 lb, 6oz, and 22in. long) well we took him to the pediatrician a week after his birth to have it done but, they couldn’t adjust the tool they use, therefor it would have looked like they cut it off if they would have done it, so they referred us to Texas Children’s Hospital to have to procedure done when he is 6+ months old. Me and my husband have chosen Dr. Edmond Gonzales to do the procedure, well he has to be completely sedated, which worries me because, as you know, there are dangerous concerning sedation of a child under the age of 9 months because of lung development and strength….So my question is, should we get the procedure done at age 6 months, or wait till he is 9 months – a year old? Which will be best for him? And why?

  17. Anne flynn says:

    Dear Dr. Andropoulos,

    My three-year-old grandson has a brain injury due to a premature birth of 26 weeks. He recently required an MRI and was given Propafol. The hospital was very forthcoming and told us that the Dr. (A resident) gave him an overdose….100mg instead of 10mg. We received a letter in the mail with a detailed account of the event. It was frightening to read, to say the least.
    Surprisingly the hospital will NOT be charging our insurance co. For his 6 day hospital stay, including a team that was sent in an ICU ambulance to transfer him to a city hosp. Our concern is that he will have long term effects of this anesthisia. He will also require future MRI’s. He already has a brain injury and we are terrified this could set him back. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thank you

  18. Rhonda says:

    My 5 week old great grandson is scheduled to have a hernia repair @ Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville KY next week. Needless to say his young mother is distraught over this and not getting many details from the doctors i.e. type of sedation, how long the sedation will last and if there are any after affects. I have been searching online for info and came to your website. Can you please tell us what to expect and ask the doctors?
    Thanks so much for your input.

    • Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos, M.D., M.H.C.M., Anesthesiologist-in-Chief says:

      As you can read from previous blog posts, this is a common and important question. I need to emphasize that although we are concerned over the possible effects of anesthetic medications on the growing and developing brain of young infants, we have not yet proven that there is a problem. A hernia repair is a very common surgery for young infants, and should definitely be performed in infancy to prevent later problems, especially incarceration of the bowel, which can be a very painful and dangerous condition. In this case, the benefit of having the hernia repaired far outweighs any theoretical risk from the anesthesia.

      Hernia surgery is usually a short and uncomplicated procedure. Normally an infant has anesthesia for no more than 1-2 hours, and wakes up quickly. Most of the time, local anesthesia can be used together with general anesthesia to prevent much of the pain for a few hours after surgery, and lower the doses of general anesthesia. We have not proven that one type of general anesthesia is better than another. Our approach today is as it always has been: plan the dose of anesthesia medication according to the patient’s needs, no more, no less; and also the duration of anesthesia is only what is necessary. Discuss these issues with your anesthesiologist on the day of surgery. In this case, I would recommend having the surgery with the above points in mind, knowing that it is far better to have the hernia repaired now.

  19. ifeoluwa says:

    my son is just one month old and we need to circumsize him. the surgeon wants him to undergo this surgery under general anesthesia but i was wondering why he doesnt want to use a local anesthesia…lidocaine spray for example. can we go ahead and do the surgery under a general anesthesia? if yes, what are the complications?

  20. Don says:

    Our 2 1/2 year old is scheduled for circumsicion revision. He is not in pain and it is not irritated/infected. Since this is not an emergency surgery we would feel more comfortable delaying the surgery/sedation until after his brain has developed more and could perhaps “handle” the anesthesia better. Is there a safer age rage we could aim for where long term learning side effects would be less likely (assuming the two ARE linked) 4 or 5 years old perhaps? Thanks from a concerned parent. We don’t to harm our pride and joy’s brain development.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Is there any age at which we’re feeling a child may be out of the woods or past the vulnerable period regarding anesthesia detrimentally affecting brain development? My son is 6, almost 7, and his dentists have been trying to get me to get cavities in his baby teeth filled under g.a. since he was 2. I have successfully put it off for 5 years now because the teeth weren’t bothering him and there was no indication they were affecting his adult teeth, and therefore I didn’t want to subject him to g.a., given everything I was reading at the time. Today he has many multisurface cavities which the dentists think should be treated, but they still haven’t caused him any pain or problems. However, our state only mandates insurance coverage for dental g.a. through age 6, and there is still no way he could have all this work done in the dental chair; he’s an extremely anxious patient. I’d love to think that he’s past the vulnerable period and just get this over with and give him a healthy mouth (and have insurance pay for it!) but I’ve read two rat studies that conclude that harm occurs beyond the 0-4 age period (but that it affect different areas of the brain), and one study that seems to associate motor function issues with older childhood exposure to anesthesia. I’m having a hard time given the lack of solid information and the fact that I don’t view this as an “urgent” procedure.

  22. Jackie says:

    My son is 4 yrs today, he has no speech, bt when he was 16 months old, he got burnt with hot black tea on his chest which required skin grafting so, he went under anesthesia twice bt before he had accident, he was developing normally, he was saying few words like dai dai and waving bt all that dissappeard after the accident encluding refusing certain foods, could this be the side effects of the anesthesia? If so what can I do?

  23. Mari says:


    I really appreciate this website and your help to very concern parents. My son is 16 months old and he will be getting an MRI with anesthesia next month and h suffers from central sleep apnea and I’m extremely concern about this. Please help me, I don’t get to talk to the anesthesiologist until the day of the MRI.

  24. mustafa tahir says:

    Dear Dr my son got wrongly circumsized and needs a repair surgery for penis skin ..the doctor says he will be given general anesthesia he is 2 months old…please advise

  25. Michelle richardson says:

    My son had open heart surgery at 6 months of age. 7 hours in operation. Now he is a year old and getting ear infections and they want to put him under anesthesia again to place tubes in his ears. The heart surgery was absolutely needed I understood however the ears seem minor so my question is should I wait til age 4 yo get the tubes?? Thank you.

  26. Ahmed says:

    My son 6 months old, he has metopic craniocynostosis, doctor recomended for scull surgery, it is not possible without anesthesia, this surgery is almost more than 1 hour, I want to ask that is it safe to give anesthesia to a 6 month old child, and it works for more than 1 hour and after surgery how much time it will take baby to come out of the effect of this anesthesia.

  27. Oksana says:

    Dear Dr Andropoulos,
    My 4 year old son has routine MRIs of his spine every several months. Usually it takes about 2-3 hours to get images of all three parts of his spine. Now I am trying to schedule the next MRI and I am told that he would need 2 appointments instead of one. Reason is: 2 shorter sedations would be safer than 1 longer one. I did not have a chance to speak with the anesthesiologist yet, but would appreciate to hear your opinion about that.

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