Summer 2010
ASK THE EXPERT: Pediatric Sedation
ASK THE EXPERTS: Pediatric Sedation

Mary Lou Gaeta, MD

Q: My four-year-old son is scheduled for an MRI at Bridgeport Hospital. The doctor says that my son will be given a medicine to help him sleep through the test. Can you tell me more about this medicine?

Surgeon Mary Lou Gaeta, MD, Section Chief of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at the P.T. Barnum Pediatric Center at Bridgeport Hospital, responds:

A: As pediatricians, we sometimes wish we could wave a magic wand or channel some superhero powers to make everything easier for our patients.

A little magic could certainly come in handy when children need a test or procedure that may be uncomfortable or stressful. Some of these tests require stillness (MRIs, CAT scans, lumbar punctures) or patience (changing a bandage, removing stitches). As you know, it can be difficult to get a four-year-old to stay still for longer than a minute or two on his or her own. Kids are natural wigglers!

Therefore, when a test or procedure requires a child to hold still, pediatric sedation is often used. These medicines help children relax, stay in one position and sometimes fall asleep for the duration of the test or procedure. Some sedatives also have amnesia effects so a child does not remember a test.

If sedation is recommended, when you and your son arrive for the MRI you will meet Bridgeport Hospital’s specialty pediatric team for our KidEase sedation service. Our child life specialist and pediatric nurses understand children’s anxieties and will quickly gauge how your son is feeling about the test and/or being in the hospital. They will provide creative, age-appropriate distractions— bubbles, a video, a special toy or conversation— to make his experience here as comfortable and as positive as possible. Our pediatric sedation team of physicians, nurses and technicians, who specialize in children, will tailor the medications and procedure to your son’s age and needs.

You’ll also want to talk to your child about the test or procedure ahead of time at whatever level he can understand, explaining that it’s the right thing to do. And reassure him that you will be nearby.

Working together, we’ll make your son’s experience at Bridgeport Hospital as easy as possible!

Making Tests and Procedures Easier for Kids

If your child is facing a test or procedure, ask your pediatrician or other specialist about Bridgeport Hospital’s KidEase sedation service. Common tests and procedures for which pediatric sedation is used include:

  • CAT Scan
  • MRI
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG)
  • Dressing (bandage) change
  • Suture (stitches) removal
  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR) hearing test
  • Echocardiogram (to see inside the heart)
  • Electroencephalogram (to see brain wave patterns)
  • Delivering intravenous (IV) medications
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)

Your child’s doctor can make arrangements for your family to use the service by calling the P.T. Barnum Pediatric Center at Bridgeport Hospital at 203-384-3250.