Anaesthetics in Children

Specialists in the speciality field of Anaesthesiology

Consultant anaesthetists with spefic interest and expertise in paediatric anaesthesia perform the vast majority of anaesthetics at the 2 units.

The comfort of your child

The first thing to understand about your child undergoing any anaesthetic procedure is that we do not treat them as adults. The view of the Wits Paediatric Surgery Unit is that the more comfortable your child is the better. This means:

    • No hospital gowns – you child can wear whatever they feel like to make them more comfortable. We will change them into surgical wear once they are asleep. We have seen tiaras to jumpsuits, pyjamas to Spiderman outfits – we want your child to be happy.


    • Bring any toys or distractions – feeling safe and happy before a procedure is of paramount importance to our team. We want your child to feel relaxed and if this means playing with a doll, teddy bear or an action man, then the staff are more than happy to do it.


    • No needles or drips – our preferred method of anesthetising is a mask. We use gas to put the child to sleep, and try incorporating the mask into play. The anaesthetic staff will always show the child the mask in the ward before the surgery. This again, is simply to eliminate any anxiety. If we need to use drips, they will be inserted once the child is asleep.


  • A parent may accompany the child into theatre – having a parent with them helps children relax. We encourage one parent to assist us in anaesthetising their child. This again is to keep them calm and worry free. Once your child is asleep you will be asked to wait in the waiting room and you will be invited back in the recovery ward on the completion of the procedure.
Of course these priorities all come into play with elective procedures. In the case of emergencies and/or trauma we will do everything necessary to get your child into theatre immediately, however in these situations our priority will always be the safety of your child first, and we may well deviate from the above guidelines.

With cases of children aged between 0-6 months, we generally do not allow parents into theatre. Older children benefit from parental presence whereas in the early phase of life the benefit is not as significant.

Anaesthetic Guidelines

You will be provided with a list detailing all the necessary precautions to take before surgery and we will take care to answer all questions you may have. In the past there has been some misconception about eating and drinking before a procedure. We actively encourage children to eat and drink until 6 hours prior to surgery.

We also try maintaining your child’s blood sugar levels by giving them clear fluid, like apple juice, to drink up until 2 hours prior to surgery.

Risks of Anaesthesia on young children

There is no evidence to suggest that anaesthesia poses any risk to a developing brain.

That said there are risks with any surgery – be it in a child or an adult. Again, these risks will be discussed with you at length before the procedure. The risks are greater with younger and sicker patients, but these are not necessarily anaesthesia related, but rather as a direct result of the child’s reason for admission.

Care provided by a suitably qualified and experienced team, as whilst not negating these risks, goes a long way to reducing their occurrence.