Skip to main content
Find a DoctorGet Care Now
Skip to main content
Search icon magnifying glass







Pediatric Sedation Services

Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital’s pediatric sedation team is made up of critical care doctors and nurses who work together to safely administer sedation medication and carefully monitor your child while they are sedated. Also included on the team is a child life specialist who will meet with you and your child to help prepare them for their test or procedure.

The doctors and nurses on the pediatric sedation team will discuss with you which level of sedation is best for your child and the procedure they are having. Your input is highly valued to help the team provide the best plan of care for your child.

There are different levels of sedation ranging from a relaxed state, with the ability to respond normally to questions, to a deep sleep, where the child is asleep and difficult to wake with sound or touch.

Medications for sedation can be given:

  • Orally (pill or liquid by mouth)
  • Intranasally (medicine is sprayed into nose)
  • Intravenously (medicine is given through an IV)
  • Intramuscularly (medication is injected)
  • Inhaled through a mask 

Where is sedation done and for what types of procedures?

Sedation can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital (YNHCH). When your child’s doctor orders a test they will discuss with you whether sedation is necessary. It is often necessary to help children be still and comfortable in order to obtain optimal results for: 

  • MRI scans
  • CT scans
  • Nuclear medicine imaging (PET scans, kidney scans, MIBG scan, bone scans)
  • Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) placement
  • Bone marrow aspirate and biopsy
  • Lumbar punctures
  • Liver or renal biopsy
  • Hearing tests
  • Joint injections
  • Vesicoureterogram (VCUG)
  • Urodynamic study (UDS)

Before your child’s procedure

Once your child’s doctor has requested sedation you will be contacted to set up an appointment for your child’s test. Five to seven days before your appointment one of the nurses from the pediatric sedation team will call you to review medical history, plan for sedation, feeding guidelines and arrival information for the day of your appointment. The pediatric sedation nurse will also review any testing that may need to be scheduled prior to your child receiving sedation.

The day of your child’s procedure

Can my child eat before the procedure?

It is essential for your child’s safety that they have an empty stomach before they are sedated. If you or your child have not followed the feeding guidelines your appointment will be rescheduled. The guidelines are as follows:

- 6 hours before the procedure stop all food and fluids except for water and apple juice
- 4 hours before the procedure stop breast milk
- 2 hours before the procedure stop all fluids. Your child may not have anything by mouth for 2 hours before the procedure. 

Arriving for the procedure

Once you check in at the location of your child’s test you will be escorted to the pre-procedure area. You will meet with members of the pediatric sedation team including a pediatric intensive care doctor, a nurse who specializes in intensive care and sedation, and a child life specialist who provides age-appropriate education and distraction to your child while they are at the hospital.

These specialized staff will:

  • - Weigh your child and obtain vital signs (temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen level)
    - Review allergies, medications and medical history 
    - Explain risks and benefits associated with sedation and obtain your consent
    - Develop and discuss the best sedation plan for your child based on their individual needs
    - Explain to your child what to expect in a way they can understand
    - In many cases, we will need to place an IV to give your child the medication they will need for sedation.

During the procedure

You can stay with your child while they fall asleep and often you can stay for the entire test or procedure.

Your child will be placed on a monitor before the doctor gives the medication for sedation to monitor their heartrate, breathing and blood pressure. Most medications will cause your child to become sleepy within just a few minutes after the doctor gives them.

A sedation doctor and nurse will be with your child during the entire procedure to make sure they are safe and comfortable.

After the procedure

Most children wake up within 30-60 minutes after their test is complete.

They can have a drink and something to eat when they wake up and then quickly resume their regular diet. It is uncommon for children to have nausea or vomiting after they are sedated.

Once they have something to eat or drink, they can go home. We recommend the rest of the day is relaxing as they may be dizzy or unsteady for several hours after. Do not do anything that requires concentration or coordination such as bike riding, swimming or driving. Most children can resume regular activities the following day.

For parents and caregivers. This virtual tour is designed to help you and your child know what to expect when they arrive at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital for a test or procedure that may require sedation.

Contact Us

Parent/Guardian questions

Physician referral
[email protected]