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SANANTONIO -- Doctors at a San Antonio hospital are using a new tool to make their smallest patients more comfortable. It s a sedation method dentists have used for years.

This is a less invasive way to sedate children for procedures. All it requires is a mask and about three minutes.

Keeping the smallest of patients calm and tranquil during procedures is no small task. Many diagnostic or therapeutic interventions require IV sedation where children are unconscious. For some patients, though, there s another less invasive alternative.

Gas. It s nitrous oxide, the same stuff you d call laughing gas at the dentist.

At North Central Baptist Hospital in Stone Oak, the pediatric sedation unit has been using this approach of the last two months with great success.

They re awake the whole time, explained Dr. Daniel Sedillo, a pediatric critical care specialist. You can talk to them and tell them to take a deep breath or to relax and once you take the gas off within two or three minutes they re back to their playful self as they were before.

The gas can be kept up for about half an hour and allows doctors to do everything from injections to biopsies, from spinal tapes to MRI scans.

The children have less angst and fear and the doctors have a cooperative patient to work on.

The physicians who were doing the procedure were very happy that they were able to do the procedure comfortably without the child moving a whole lot and not having to see tears or screaming or anything like that, Sedillo remarked.

Using nitrous oxide as a sedative means parents don t have to worry as much about what their children eat before the procedure. The recovery to full consciousness is faster.
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