Pediatric Sedation

If your child is getting imaging work, sedation is useful to help your child feel more relaxed. Sedation also helps our radiology team get the best images possible and provide complete care.

Depending on your child’s needs, we may recommend your child be conscious and able to talk to us or deeply asleep but still breathing on their own. We often provide sedation in combination with pain medication to make sure your child is comfortable and pain-free for the duration of the imaging study.

At SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, our Imaging department partners very closely with specialized SLUCare Physician Group pediatric anesthesiologists to provide the safest and most effective care for your child. We provide inpatient and outpatient sedation for infants, children and adolescents in the Imaging Sedation / Recovery Unit.

Procedures that may require your child to be sedated include:

Sedation medications can be given:

  • Intranasally (spray injected into the nostrils)
  • Intravenously (an injection into the vein)
  • Inhalation (gas inhaled through a mask)

How Should I Prepare for this Procedure?

Preparing your child for sedation starts with talking with your child and explaining why they need sedation. This will reduce their anxiety and help them process the information. Some children may need time to ask questions and get the additional emotional support they need.

A nurse will contact you several days prior to your appointment to review your child's medical history and explain any dietary restrictions. These restrictions are known as NPO guidelines. It’s very important to follow these instructions because serious medical problems can occur if there is any food or liquid in your child's stomach during the sedation.

To make sedation as easy as possible for you and your child, please bring any item you think will be comforting or entertaining during wait times. Our Child Life Specialists will be available to help you prepare and support your family throughout the entire process.

What Can I Expect During My Child’s Appointment?

A typical visit to our Sedation / Recovery Unit lasts about three to four hours. This includes registration, the procedure, and recovery.

We ask that families arrive 90 minutes before your child’s scheduled imaging exam in order for our team to:

  • Complete the insurance registration
  • Provide time for your child to be examined by a doctor and nurse
  • Attain your written consent
  • Have medications prepared
  • Have the sedation pre-medication take effect
  • Allow for the IV catheter to be placed

As your child goes to sleep, we carefully monitor your child and coordinate with the imaging team to begin the diagnostic study or procedure. Most imaging studies last 30 to 60 minutes. Your nurse will be able to provide a time frame for you depending on your child's procedure. Recovery will also last approximately one hour, with some children waking earlier and others requiring longer recovery times.

After Sedation

Once the diagnostic study is completed, your child will recover in their original sedation room and receive fluids through their IV to help with recovery. From here, we’ll give you specific instructions on how to care for your child at home.

Some children may experience side effects from the sedation medication for up to 24 hours, including sleepiness, some vomiting, and feeling off-balance. We’ll discuss ways to minimize these and help your child bounce back.

Sedation for Children with Special Needs

If your child has special needs and has a very specific daily routine, one of our sedation schedulers, a registered nurse, will recommend the best way to make your appointment go smoothly. This may include:

  • Offering you an early appointment to make it easier to manage fasting
  • Offering a later appointment to lessen the disruption to your child’s daily routine

Our team can also connect your family with a Child Life Specialist prior to the hospital visit to provide you the support you need.

At SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, we look forward to caring for your child. With an experienced staff and state-of-the-art imaging technology, you can count on us to deliver the excellent care your child needs. To schedule your appointment today, please call 314-577-5652.


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