Pediatric Cardiac Anesthesia
What is the pediatric cardiac anesthesia service?
Anesthesiologists use medicines to prevent or reduce the feeling of pain or sensation during surgeries, tests or other procedures. Our team gives anesthesia to children having heart surgery, cardiac catheterization procedures, electrophysiology studies and other tests or treatments. Our main goal is to ensure your child’s safety and comfort.
What’s special about the experience at Seattle Children’s?
Our doctors and nurses have many years of experience with the way anesthesia affects infants, children and young adults with a wide range of heart conditions.
Anytime a child needs anesthesia, it’s important to use great care. But pediatric heart procedures require an even higher level of expertise. To best manage your child’s health during heart procedures, their anesthesia team needs deep knowledge about kids’ hearts — much more than a regular anesthesiologist usually has. At Seattle Children’s, our pediatric cardiac anesthesia team has special training in giving anesthesia to children with heart problems.
Our cardiac anesthesiologists work all the time to advance the care of children everywhere with heart disease. The anesthesia team is involved in research and other projects to reduce blood loss and protect the organs during heart surgery, improve the results of surgery and manage pain well after surgery.
The pediatric cardiac anesthesia team provides general anesthesia, regional anesthesia and sedation for children of all ages, from newborns to young adults.
Before: thorough planning for your child’s needs
- In the days before surgery, a member of the cardiac anesthesia team may need to see your child in our preoperative clinic. We will ask about your child’s health history and help coordinate any care your child needs before their surgery.
- On the day of surgery, a member of the team will meet with your family to make sure your child is physically ready for surgery, discuss the anesthesia plan and answer any questions.
- The anesthesiologist will talk with you about the anesthesia plan. The plan includes how your child will fall asleep, how we will monitor them while they are asleep and what pain medicine or sedation we will give them afterward.
- We will discuss your child’s condition, treatment and anesthesia in ways you understand and involve you in every decision. Our Child Life specialists know how to help children understand their care in ways that make sense for their age.
During: careful monitoring and management
- During procedures, our anesthesiologists work closely with our heart surgeons and heart doctors (cardiologists) to take care of your child’s needs as a team.
- When your child is fully asleep for surgery, the anesthesia team checks more than 20 of your child’s vital functions. These include blood pressure, temperature, heart function and oxygen levels in the blood. We adjust their care as needed to keep them safe and comfortable the whole time.
- Anesthesiologists are part of the expert team that monitors and manages your child if they need to be on the heart-lung bypass machine or other forms of mechanical support, like extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) or a ventricular assist device.
After: a smooth, safe transition
- The anesthesiologist will follow your child throughout their procedure until your child is transferred to the care of other specialized team members.
- Based on your child’s condition and procedure, we may transfer them to the team in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or recovery room.
Contact the Heart Center at for a referral, a second opinion or more information.
- Heart Center Team
- Pain Medicine
- What to Expect: Cardiac Catheterization
- What to Expect: Heart Surgery
You may be offered a telehealth (virtual) appointment. Learn more.
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