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Outpatient Surgery (cont.)

Special Cases: Outpatient Surgery for Children

For parents or caregivers, surgery performed on their children is much more stressful than if they were having surgery performed on themselves. In these instances, speaking to the anesthesiologist regarding the anesthetic plan is even more important. Children benefit significantly from surgery in the outpatient setting because it decreases separation from their family and the home.

  • A parent or other responsible adult must accompany all children.
  • Many surgery centers sedate a child in the waiting room to help with anxiety.
  • A parent may be invited into the operating room with the child for the first part of anesthesia to comfort the child in this strange environment. If a parent is unable to do this, someone else might be available to assist if possible. If invited into the operating room, the parent must remain calm to keep from alarming the child.
  • Children often inhale anesthetic gases as they go to sleep. Every child is different. Some go to sleep quietly, and others cry and try to fight the anesthesia.
  • Once the child is asleep, doctors insert an IV and begin the surgical procedure.
  • The adult is reunited with the child early in the recovery period to provide comfort and added security—for both of them. Children must also meet discharge criteria before they can be sent home.

Outpatient Surgery Problems

Outpatient surgery is very safe, with a low frequency of complications. However, potential risks and complications are associated with any surgical procedure, no matter how minor. Some risks are related to the surgery, and other risks are related to the anesthesia. The most frequent complications include nausea and vomiting, sore throat, and discomfort at the surgical site.

Although more serious complications are rare, heart attack, stroke, excessive bleeding, and even death have occurred in the outpatient setting. Some people may require hospital admission following surgery. The doctor should be alerted as soon as possible if a problem is suspected after a person is discharged from the outpatient center. The earlier the doctor is aware of a potential problem, the sooner appropriate treatment can be started to avert any long-term effects.

For More Information on Outpatient Surgery

American Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers PO Box 5271
Johnson City, TN 37602-5271
(423) 915-1001

Federated Ambulatory Surgery Association
700 North Fairfax Street, #306
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 836-8808

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


1. Bready L, Mullins R. Decision Making in Anesthesiology. Vol 3. Mosby-Year Book; 1999.
2. Miller RD, Reves JG, Miller ED Jr, Cucchiara R. Anesthesia. 5th ed. Churchill-Livingstone; 2000.
3. Stoelting RD, Dierdorf SF. Anesthesia and Co-existing Disease. 3rd ed. Churchill-Livingstone; 1993.
4. Stoelting RD, Miller RD. Basics of Anesthesia. 3rd ed. Churchill-Livingstone; 1994.
5. Stoelting RK. Pharmacology and Physiology in Anesthetic Practice. 3rd ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1999.

Last Reviewed 11/17/2017
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