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Preparing Your Child for Surgery

Thank you for choosing Memorial Hospital of South Bend for your child’s surgery. A team of highly trained nurses, surgeons, and anesthesiologists will provide your child’s surgical care. We look forward to working closely with you to make your visit as safe, comfortable and convenient as possible. We understand that this can be a stressful time for you and your child. The information on this page is provided for you to help prepare your child for surgery.

Day Before Surgery

The day before surgery a nurse will try to call you. This phone call will tell you what time to get here, when your child needs to stop eating and drinking, and other important information. If you have questions about the surgery, please call the Outpatient Surgery Center at 574.647.6700 and a nurse can assist you.

  • Write down your child’s information, including allergies, medical history and medications
  • Write down the questions you have about your child’s surgery
  • Make sure to pack your insurance card and ID
  • Pack a bag with all supplies your child may need:
    • Diapers or extra underwear, formula, bottles, sippy cups and/or pacifier
    • Comfort items, such as a clean, favorite toy or blanket that may be taken to the operating room
    • Loose, comfortable clothes for your child to wear after surgery

Ways to Prepare Your Child

Parents often ask for information on how to talk with their child about surgery. Children of all ages may cope better if they have an idea of what is going to happen. The following are age-appropriate talking suggestions:

Infants (newborn to 12 months old)

  • Bring familiar things from home (like favorite blanket, toy, pacifier and bottle or sippy cup) for after the surgery
  • Remember, the more calm and relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will be

Toddler (1 to 3 years old)

  • Tell your child about their surgery 1-2 days before
  • Use simple words
  • Allow choices, such as which stuffed animal to bring or a favorite book to read
  • After surgery is over and they spend some time in the recovery (“wake-up”) room, remind your child that they will see you afterwards
  • Reassure your child that you will be waiting for them in their room

Preschool (3-5 years old)

  • Talk to your preschooler 3-5 days before surgery
  • Use simple words
  • Ask your child their thoughts and feelings about surgery
  • Give reassurance that going to the hospital is not a punishment
  • Play is how preschoolers learn, playing hospital or doctor can be helpful

School age (5-12 years old)

  • Talk to your child a week or two before surgery
  • Be honest and realistic
  • Allow your child the chance to ask questions and talk about concerns
  • Give simple explanations of things your child might see, hear, smell and touch

Adolescents (12-18 years old)

  • Teenagers are learning independence; encourage your teen to ask questions and participate in decision making
  • Give honest information about the surgery
  • Respect your teens need for privacy

The Day of Surgery

You will be requested to arrive earlier than your scheduled time for surgery. This allows us plenty of time to be sure that you and your child are ready for surgery. Your first stop will be in the Admitting Department (on the first floor, near the main entrance), where you will review personal and insurance information. Please bring your identification card and insurance information. You will then be given directions to the Outpatient Surgery Center on the second floor. Please be sure to check in at the desk when you arrive.

It is Almost Time for Surgery

Just before your child’s surgery, a registered nurse will show you and your child to a private room. Your nurse will ask about your child’s health history. Your child’s blood pressure and temperature will also be checked. If your child’s surgeon has requested lab work and an I.V. started, those will be done at this time.

A Visit with the Surgeon and Anesthesiologist

Your child’s surgeon and anesthesiologist will visit both you and your child before surgery. Your child may be given a medicine to drink to cause drowsiness before surgery. It may help make it easier for them when they are ready to go to surgery.

Heading to the Operating Room

There are many ways to transport your child to the operating room. Your child can choose whether they would like to ride in a wagon, a wheel chair, or walk to surgery. If your child is one year old or younger, a nurse may carry your child to the operating room.

Receiving Anesthesia

The anesthesiologist will select one of two ways to begin anesthesia. One option is to place a needle (generally in a child’s arm), with tubing attached (I.V.), and give medicine through the I.V. tubing. The other option is to allow the child to breathe anesthesia gas using a mask which is placed near the mouth and nose. Your anesthesiologist will discuss with you the plan of care for your child. When your child is in the operating room, the nurse and/or anesthesiologist will place normal monitoring devices on your child. These may include a blood pressure cuff, a finger sensor to monitor oxygen levels, and EKG patches (stickers) to monitor your child’s heart rate. The operating room will be cold, so a warm blanket will be given to your child for comfort.

Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

After surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room by both the anesthesiologist and a registered nurse. Your child will receive personalized care by a recovery room nurse. Due to the privacy needs of other patients, parents and loved ones are not allowed into the recovery room. We will reunite you with your child as soon as possible. The process of your child waking up from anesthesia can take some time, depending on the child and the procedure.

Return to Outpatient Surgery Room

After your child has been determined ready, they will be brought back to you in your private room in the Outpatient Surgery Center. Your child may feel tired and be difficult to comfort, this is normal. They will usually feel much better after an additional nap. As your child continues to wake up, our staff will evaluate when they can go home based on their doctor’s plan of care. This amount of time varies because all patients have different needs.

We hope all of your questions have been answered. If you have any questions, please call 574.647.6700.