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Calming children before surgery.

A child's experiences immediately before surgery can alter the youngster's behavior for days, even weeks and months, after going home, according to a pair of Yale University studies. The more positive the experience, the less likely the child is to exhibit a variety of negative behavioral responses later. These aftereffects can include nightmares, eating problems, separation anxiety, apathy, withdrawal, an escalated fear of physicians, and increased rebelliousness toward parents and guardians, notes Zeev N. Kain, associate professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics. "That is why it is important to make this preoperative experience as comfortable as possible, An unpleasant experience can cause unnecessary hardship for children and parents alike."

Researchers found that giving a child a sedative before the induction of anesthesia can reduce the incidence of negative behavior after surgery by making the preoperative experience more comfortable. The sedative not only lessens anxiety, it produces amnesia so the youngster is relaxed and does not remember anything unpleasant before surgery.

The second study found that kids who were calm during the induction of anesthesia showed significantly fewer negative behavioral changes in the two weeks after surgery than did those who had a "stormy" induction and were very upset. Distress during the induction of anesthesia directly was related to later post-operative behavior, even after factoring in such variables as age, temperament, and level of postoperative pain.

To support children through surgery and its aftermath, Kain advises parents to request a preoperative sedative for their offspring and to ask for permission to accompany him or her into the operating room for the induction of anesthesia. "Check to see what your hospital's policy is for pediatric surgery." Even so, parents should anticipate some behavioral changes in their children after surgery, which can be "treated" with a little extra compassion and patience.
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Title Annotation:Yale Univ studies show the importance of providing positive preoperative experiences for children undergoing surgery
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 1, 1998
Previous Article:Basking in the glow of nostalgia.
Next Article:"Bloodless" operations eliminate transfusions.

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