Pediatric anesthesiologists - experience and training matters

Alexa Fisher and Mark Hofeldt, MD

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Gabriel Hutchinson snuggles with his mom as Mark Hofeldt, MD, a pediatric anesthesiologist, discusses Gabriel's surgical care.

Pediatric anesthesiologists - experience and training matters 

It’s common for any parent to be concerned about anesthesia when their child is required to have surgery. Even though anesthesia today is much safer than it has ever been, all anesthesia has an element of risk.
 
When a child is undergoing surgery, the expertise of a pediatric anesthesiologist is critical,” says Mark Hofeldt, MD, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Dayton Children’s. “It is even more important when the surgery lasts four to six hours or even longer.”
 
“What most parents – and some doctors – don’t realize is that pediatric anesthesia is not identical to adult anesthesia,” says Judy Herting, MD, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Dayton Children’s. “Because a child’s anatomy and physiology change as the child grows, adjustments must be made when they are anesthetized for surgery,” she explains.

At Dayton Children’s, a pediatric anesthesiologist directs the anesthetic for every surgery. These doctors are specially trained in pediatrics and involved in your child’s care before, during and after surgery.

What kind of training do pediatric anesthesiologists have?

Pediatric anesthesiologists are physicians who have had:

  • At least four years of medical school
  • One year of internship and three years of residency in anesthesiology
  • Additional specialty training in pediatric anesthesiology
  • Certification from the American Board of Anesthesiologists

Pediatric anesthesiologists know how to examine and treat children in a way that makes them relaxed and cooperative. We specialize in using equipment specifically designed for children and our facilities are designed to put your child at ease.

Alexa’s story

When Lori and Scott Fisher of Lima found out their daughter needed to have scoliosis corrective surgery (surgery for a curvature of the spine), they did their research. Not only was Lori concerned about Alexa’s other health issues causing problems during scoliosis corrective surgery, but as a nurse, she knew how important a pediatric anesthesiologist is when a child needs surgery.
 
“I knew scoliosis corrective surgery could last four to six hours, and because of Alexa’s other medical issues related to Marfan syndrome (a disorder of connective tissue that strengthens the body’s structures), I was particularly concerned about the anesthesia,” Lori says.
 
Lori first wanted to take Alexa to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, which has a treatment center for Marfan syndrome. After talking to the doctors at Johns Hopkins as well as doctors at Dayton Children’s, Lori’s mind was made up: Alexa was coming to Dayton Children’s.
 
Dr. Hofeldt was involved in a couple of Alexa’s previous surgeries. Because of this, Lori requested that he be the anesthesiologist for her daughter’s spinal surgery, which would be performed by Michael Albert, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Dayton Children’s.
 
Dr. Hofeldt adds: “In Alexa’s case, other medical conditions demanded extra monitoring through her long procedure to ensure a safe outcome. Plus, the specialists involved in her ongoing care were easily available if their expertise was needed before or after scoliosis corrective surgery.”

For more on surgical services, go to childrensdayton.org/story. Enter “comfort” as the keyword.

Ways to reduce risk

The anesthesiologist will talk to you about the various types of anesthesia that may be used for your child, and the risks and benefits of each.

  • Share all information about your child's health (including all medications your child is taking, even those that can be obtained without a doctor's prescription) with the anesthesiologist prior to the procedure. This will allow the anesthesiologist to make a decision as to which type of anesthesia and drugs are safest for your child.
  • Follow the guidelines you are given regarding limiting eating and drinking before the operation.
  • Continue usual medications unless the anesthesiologist or surgeon instructs otherwise.
  • Make sure other chronic illnesses are being treated appropriately.
  • Choose a pediatric anesthesiologist who is experienced in caring for children.
 

One of Dayton Children's operating rooms

 

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