Surgery and Your Child :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Surgery and Your Child

Your child is going to have surgery. To make it as easy as possible for you and your child, we would like to tell you what to expect before, during, and after surgery.

Before Surgery

  • Honestly explain to your child what will happen. Use simple words you know he or she will understand.
  • Plan to be at the hospital at least 2 hours before surgery. This allows time for the doctor to check your child and the nurse to take your child’s temperature, blood pressure, and weight and height.
  • ID bands will be placed on your wrist and your child’s wrist or ankle, and will stay on at all times. If your child has allergies, an allergy band will also be put on.
    Picture 1 Your child may bring a favorite toy or blanket from home.
  • Your child may bring a favorite toy or blanket to surgery (picture 1). After he or she is asleep in the Operating Room (OR), the toy or blanket will be placed in your child's crib or cart. This way, there will be something familiar in the bed after surgery. Your child will wear a hospital gown to the OR.
  • If you are already in the hospital, you and your child will be brought to the pre-op holding area about 90 minutes before surgery. An anesthesiologist (AN-ess-thee-zee-AH-low-gist) will talk with you and answer your questions before your child has surgery.
  • When the OR is ready, a member of the OR team will take your child to the room. Calmly tell your child you need to go, and you will be there when he or she comes back from surgery. Only OR staff may be with your child beyond this point. The staff will show you to the Family Hospitality Suite.

During Surgery

  • In the OR, your child will be connected to monitors that constantly check the child's heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and the level of oxygen in the blood.
  • Most children receive medicine to make them sleep. This medicine is breathed in through a mask placed on the face.
  • The medicines are scented. Your child will be allowed to choose the scent he likes best. Some of the scents are bubble gum, strawberry, cherry, and orange.
  • An intravenous (IV) fluid line will be started in surgery after your child is asleep.

After Surgery

  • When the surgery is over, your child will be taken to the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit). This is also called the Recovery Room. Only hospital staff are allowed in the PACU.
  • After the operation, your child’s doctor will call you or come out to talk to you.
  • In the PACU, nurses will watch your child to make sure he is waking up properly from the anesthesia. The nurse will make sure your child has the blanket or toy brought from home. Your child will be in the PACU for 30 minutes to about an hour, or longer if necessary.
  • Once your child is awake, he will be returned to his room where you can be with him.
  • We are committed to reducing the risk of infection after surgery. You can help us take care of your child by thoroughly washing your hands before and after touching your child and by watching for signs of infection. Call your doctor if your child has any of these symptoms:
    • Fever
    • No interest in eating or drinking
    • Redness or unexpected drainage from the surgery incision site.
  • You will receive home-going instructions. Please review these instructions and ask questions.

Asking for Your Help

Several weeks to a month after your child’s surgery, you may get a phone call or letter from our Quality Improvement Department asking a few questions on the surgery and how your child is doing. This information will help us learn more about how children recover from these kinds of surgeries. Both your and your child’s identities will be kept private. If you have concerns or additional questions, please call your doctor or nurse.

Surgery and Your Child (PDF)

HH-I-154 6/93, Revised 1/10 Copyright 1993-2010, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000