How does pediatric anesthesiology differ from adult anesthesiology?

Dr. Anita Gupta
While both children and adults undergo various forms of anesthesia (local, regional, and general) for medical procedures, there are some differences in technique. Physically, a child’s weight and size is less than that of an adult. To avoid complications, a pediatric anesthesiologist is trained in using proper equipment to manage the child’s airway, supplemented with knowledge of the patient’s development, age, and size. Because children are anxious and energetic, a child may be given anesthesia for a procedure an adult would not need anesthesia for, such as diagnostic tests. While an adult would need local anesthesia or pain blocks for a procedure that is not as invasive, a child might need full anesthesia to prevent anxiety, keep him or her asleep, minimize pain, relax muscles, and block out the memory of surgery. It is essential for the anesthesiologist to constantly monitor the medication given to the child and ensure he or she is receiving the right dose because doses differ among children and adults. The values for heart rate, blood pressure, and urine output also differ between children and adults and are monitored during and after surgery to ensure optimal care. 

Although adult and pediatric anesthesiology is influenced by weight, it is critical for pediatric anesthesiologists to precisely dose medications by a child's weight. Additionally, there are structural differences between adults and children that influence airway management, treatment, and complications.  

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