My child has a cold. Should his/her surgery be canceled?
In the past, children with colds had their anesthesia and surgery canceled
until they felt better. Nowadays, we know much more about the effects of
anesthesia on colds such that cancellation of surgery for children with
colds is much less common.
An important role of the anesthesiologist is to ensure that your child
breathes freely when asleep for surgery. This is more of a challenge when
a child has a cold because they may have a lot of secretions and their air
passages may be more sensitive. Sometimes this can result in coughing
and spasm of the airways.
Although these events, if they occur, are typically mild and easily treated, they can be troublesome. The decision to cancel surgery for the child with a cold is based on a number of factors.
Typically, children whose cold is limited to the nose and upper parts of the
throat, whose secretions are clear, who do not have a fever, and who do not
feel sleepy or lethargic can be safely anesthetized. Children who look sick,
who have a fever (over 100°F) and have yellow or green secretions probably
should have their surgery canceled.
Other factors may also be important including the urgency of the surgery. These decisions should be made in consultation with your anesthesiologist and surgeon who can determine whether cancellation of surgery is necessary.