Pediatric Sedation

At Atrium Health Levine Children’s Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, we do everything we can to help your child feel safe and comfortable during treatment. In cases where other techniques might not be enough, we may recommend sedation, which is when medications are given to help your child relax or sleep safely until the procedure, scan or test is complete. Though sedation can range from mild to deep, it’s considered a “lighter sleep” than anesthesia, where your child is fully unconscious.

Our pediatric sedation team includes pediatric critical care doctors, pediatric sedation nurses and child life specialists, all working closely with Children’s Hospital Outpatient Services (CHOPS). Together, we strive to provide safe, high-quality sedative care in a kid-friendly way.

Whether your child needs sedation to alleviate pain or anxiety, or even to help them stay still during long tests that require no movement, we’ll use sedation methods specific to their unique needs.

Sedation Methods

We’ll determine the best sedation method – or combination of methods – based on your child’s age, developmental stage and preexisting conditions, as well as the type of procedure, scan or test they’re receiving. Sedation medication can be given:

  • Orally, by mouth (your child takes a pill or drinks a liquid)
  • Intranasally (spray into your child’s nostrils)
  • Intramuscularly (an injection into your child’s muscle)
  • Intravenously (an injection into your child’s vein)

Procedures That May Require Sedation

  • Bone marrow aspirate and biopsies
  • Botulinum toxin injections
  • Central line or PICC line insertion
  • Colonoscopies
  • Dislocated or fractured joints
  • Dressing changes for wounds or central venous catheters
  • Endoscopies
  • Hearing evaluations
  • Incision and drainage for an abscess
  • Interventional radiology (IR) procedures
  • Lumbar punctures (also called spinal taps) with and without intrathecal chemotherapy
  • Manual disimpaction of stool for constipation
  • pH probe or NG tube insertion
  • Placement or removal of under-the-skin implants
  • Various radiologic or imaging services, such as:
    • CT scan (computed tomography)
    • MRI (magnetic resonance image)
    • Nuclear medicine bone scan
    • MIBG scan (metaiodobenzylguanidine)
    • PET scan (positron emission tomography)

Sedation for Children with Special Needs

The hospital can be a scary, overwhelming place for anyone – but especially for a child with special needs. If your child has special needs or you expect them to have significant challenges in a hospital setting, let us know as soon as possible. Based on your child’s unique needs, we’ll provide a customized care plan to help them feel as comfortable and safe as possible. This can include decreasing stimulation before the procedure and providing specialized education to help your child understand what’s happening.

We can also connect you to a child life specialist in advance, who can provide additional support and resources to help your child feel at home.

What to Expect When Your Child Needs Sedation

Before Your Visit

In the weeks before your child’s procedure, a nurse will contact you and ask a variety of health screening questions. It’s important to tell the nurse all health-related information about your child. This call is to confirm sedation is the best, safest option for your child, as well as to ensure we do everything we can to make your child’s experience comfortable.

From there, a member of our team will reach out to schedule a time and date for your child’s procedure. We’ll also review important information to help you prepare for your child’s visit, including instructions for fasting.

During Your Visit

On the day of your child’s procedure, you’ll be asked to arrive a little early to complete paperwork, allow time for an exam and go over the sedation process. A child life specialist will be available to offer an age-appropriate explanation and support for your child as well.

When it’s time to begin the sedation process, we’ll administer the medication and create a calm environment, then escort you to a waiting area once your child is sedated. After your child’s procedure, you’ll be invited to join them in recovery.

After Your Visit

When it’s time for your child to leave, a member of our team will go over care instructions and what to expect once you get home. Some effects of sedation, like sleepiness, vomiting and even behavior changes, can linger after sedation but should clear within 24 hours.

Download procedure sedation patient instructions for more details on what to expect and how to prepare your child.


Office: 478-633-2599
Fax: 478-633-8495

Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital
Third Floor
700 Spring St.
Macon, GA 31201