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Pediatric Sedation Services

  • Preparing your child
    for sedation
  • Frequently asked questions for parents
  • Frequently asked questions for providers
  • NPO guidelines
  • The Hunstville Hospital Pediatric Sedation Program is a service designed to reduce the pain and stress associated with children's medical care. We bring together providers from several disciplines to apply the best technologies and our expertise to improve your child's medical experience.

    We are committed to advancement of the medical and behavioral techniques used to help prepare and support children through their healthcare experience. While involved with the Sedation Program, you may be introduced to innovations in methods of pain and anxiety control.

    New techniques include:

    • Use of portable DVD players while waiting for or going through a test or procedure
    • New ways to numb skin so that an IV placement is less painful
    • New medicines that work quicker, have fewer side effects, and are out of the body faster
    • Rapid-onset nasal-atomized medication

    The philosophy behind the Sedation Program is based on the understanding that, while in the hospital, children experience any number of procedures that are either painful or stressful, such as the 2-year-old who needs an MRI, the 5-year-old cancer patient who undergoes a spinal tap, or the 10-year-old who endures a broken bone.

    Sedation is helpful for these imaging procedures

    • MRI - MRIs are long and loud, typically requiring higher doses of medication.
    • CT scan - CT scans are short and quiet, typically requiring less medication.
    • Nuclear medicine study - Nuclear medicine studies are long and quiet, and dosing depends on how much sleep your child had the previous night.
    • VCUG - a short exam to view the urinary system that may be uncomfortable, typically requiring less medication.
    • Ultrasound guided procedures
    • CT scan guided procedures
    • Interventional procedures
    • Endoscopy procedures
    • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

    For a more detailed description of the procedures above, visit our Imaging Services page.

    Pediatric radiologists

    A dedicated, specially trained pediatric doctor and a team of pediatric sedation nurses administer the medication and monitor your child throughout the procedure and recovery.

    Our sedation nurses can answer any questions and help you understand our guidelines. Simply call (256) 265-7705.

    The sedation team will explain the procedure, and a doctor will examine your child. Your child may need a small tube placed in the vein (IV) to ensure that sedation is given in a very controlled and predictable way.

    Parents are usually able to stay with their child until they are sedated, depending on the type of procedure. So we can direct our full attention to your child once he or she is sedated, we may ask you to go to the waiting room at that time. As soon as we have completed the procedure, you can wait at your child’s side while he or she wakes up.

    Your child’s age, weight and the procedure determine how the medication is administered. Numbing cream or spray is used to decrease discomfort during IV placement.

    All children 6 months and younger should have nothing to eat or drink after 2 a.m. All children older than 6 months should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight. These guidelines decrease the risk of vomiting and aspiration. Aspiration can cause respiratory distress, low oxygen levels and severe pneumonia.

    If your child takes seizure or behavioral medication in the morning, give it with a teaspoon of water. If your child requires breathing treatments, give it before coming to the hospital, and bring any inhalers with you.

    Our sedation nurses can answer any questions and help you understand our guidelines. Simply call (256) 265-7705.

    After the procedure

    Some children remain sleepy and clumsy for hours after sedation. Thirst and hunger are common. When your child is fully awake, it is usually acceptable to return to a normal diet unless you receive other instructions. On occasion, a child may experience nausea, so you may want to try a clear, carbonated soda before food or other beverages.

    Plan some quiet time at home following the procedure, and watch your child closely until he/she is back to normal. Most children recover from the sedation within 30 minutes. The sedation nurse will explain what to look for after the sedation is complete.

    Safety on the day of your child's procedure

    To ensure your child’s safety, please contact the sedation nurse at (256) 265-7705 under these conditions:

    • Fever
    • Stuffy/runny nose
    • Vomiting
    • Consumption of food or drink during the nothing-by-mouth period

    Parking instructions

    For all procedures, please park in the Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children parking lot, which is accessible from Governors Drive. Go to the main entrance and check in at Admitting. Admitting will ensure that your child is registered correctly and direct you to Radiology for the procedure.


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