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Dr. Lloyd's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support Dr. Lloyd has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sniffles and Pediatric Surgery

Pediatric surgeons plan liberally. They schedule 10 surgery cases in hopes that 6 can be completed.

Pedi surgery cases cancel more frequently than adult surgery. Parents have all kinds of challenges: arranging transportation, getting time-off from work, and keeping the child from eating or drinking anything for 6 hours (good luck!).

The most common cause for cancellation is that the child is too sick to undergo the operation. How ironic! Most of the time it is something minor like a cold or ear infection. Since children receiving eye surgery require general anesthesia delivered by tracheal intubation, the child’s airways must be healthy and noninflamed. Any kind of residual swelling or airway restriction could have devastating consequences.

Every hospital sets its own rules but many require the child to not have any type of upper respiratory infection for 14 days prior to general anesthesia. The same applies to asthma attacks as well. Fever is not the indicator, it is the clarity of the breathing passages. Delicate bronchioles are very sensitive after illness and could go into bronchospasm if challenged by poorly-timed anesthesia. Healthy children have died because the anesthetist was unaware of a child’s recent respiratory illness.

Don’t become upset if your child’s surgery gets postponed. Be grateful that someone is looking out for the safety of your child. There’s a big difference between inconvenience and tragedy, right? They’ll get their operation soon enough.

Be proactive. Call the doctor today if your child is scheduled for surgery in the next 14 days and presently has a cold or earache. A prudent, timely decision can be made now and lost time-off can be saved for later use.

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Posted by: Bill Lloyd MD at 5:11 pm

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