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A boy around 10 years old sits in a wheel chair in the hospital, looks up and smiles. A woman has her hand on his shoulder.
A guide to your child's surgery
We believe it's essential to prepare both you and your child for their upcoming procedure, so we've provided helpful information covering all aspects of the experience.

Overview

If your child needs surgery, you're likely feeling some anxiety and uncertainty. Rest assured, our highly trained pediatric surgeons successfully perform thousands of surgical procedures on infants, children and adolescents each year. They have decades of combined experience, and they understand how to navigate the unique challenges of treating children and their growing bodies.

Our dedicated surgeons collaborate with a team of nurse practitioners, nurses, nursing assistants and child life specialists in order to provide excellent, compassionate care in a supportive and healing environment. They also maintain open communication with the child’s referring physician, as well as the family.

We believe it's essential to prepare both you and your child for their upcoming procedure; read on for helpful information covering all aspects of the experience.

Arrival

Please arrive at the hospital one and a half to two hours before your scheduled surgery time. Go to the room number you were given by the nurse in your presurgical phone call; you will check in and begin the admitting process.

Your child will receive a hospital gown and pair of socks, as well as an identification bracelet. Adults will also be given ID bracelets, which they will need in order to enter the recovery room. Please remove any jewelry your child may be wearing, as well as any hair bands containing metal.

Please note that your child should be in optimal health on the day of their surgery. If they have fever, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, runny nose, chicken pox, strep throat or any other illness, the surgery may need to be rescheduled. In this case, please call the surgeon’s office, as well as the Ambulatory Surgical Unit at (718) 470-3100 for further direction.

What to bring

Please make sure to bring the following:

  • Photo identification of parent/legal guardian
  • Guardianship papers, if needed
  • Health insurance card (If your insurance company requires preapproval or a second opinion, you are responsible for getting it. If you have any questions about your insurance coverage, call your insurance company)
  • Copies of all medical documents/forms that were requested by your child’s surgeon (even if you already faxed it to us)

Family support

Two adults are usually allowed to be with the child on the day of surgery, in both the waiting room before surgery and in the recovery room afterward. One of the adults must be a parent or legal guardian.

During the actual surgery, the two adults (and any other family members or friends who are age 18 or older) will wait in the pediatric surgical waiting room in the lobby. During this time, feel free to use the restroom, get a bite to eat or go for a walk. You will be paged if your surgeon needs to speak with you.

The Ambulatory Surgical Unit (ASU)

In the ASU, a nurse will perform a full assessment of your child, including their temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate.

After the assessment, you’ll be joined by your child's surgeon, anesthesiologist and operating room nurse, and you can ask any last minute questions you may have.

Entering the operating room

Your child may walk or ride in a wagon to the operating room. They may also bring a special comfort item, like a small stuffed animal or pacifier.

Depending on your child’s age and medical status, one parent or guardian may go with the child and stay with them until they fall asleep. If your child is 12 months of age or younger, please speak with your anesthesiologist regarding the possibility of going to the operating room with your child; the anesthesiologist will make the final decision.

For safety reasons, women who are pregnant are unable to accompany children into the operating room. If another family member is not available, one of the ASU nurses or child life specialists can accompany your child.

Presurgical Testing Program

Before surgery, your child will have a presurgical evaluation with members of our Presurgical Testing Program. During the evaluation, a nurse practitioner will conduct a full review of your child’s medical history, do a physical examination, complete any necessary blood work and answer any questions you may have.

At this time, you may also have a consultation with the pediatric anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist will review your child’s history and create the safest and most appropriate anesthesia care plan.

If you’re concerned about your child's level of anxiety about having surgery, please let the nurse practitioner know during this time. It may be appropriate to plan to provide a sedative before going to the operating room. The nurse can also make a referral to a child life specialist to help provide emotional support, as well as age and developmentally appropriate explanations of your hospital stay.

If you have any questions about presurgical testing, please call (718) 470-3937.

Day before surgery

The day before your child’s surgery, you will receive a call from the Ambulatory Surgery Unit with instructions on when to stop eating and drinking and what time to arrive for your surgery. In addition, pack a bag for the hospital that includes all the essentials you will need, including:

  • Photo ID of parent/legal guardian
  • Guardianship papers, if needed
  • Health insurance card (You are responsible for getting preapproval or a second opinion, if required by your insurance company. If you have any questions about your coverage, please call your insurance company.)
  • Copies of all medical documents/forms that were requested by your child’s surgeon (even if you already faxed it to us)
  • Your child’s favorite toy or comfort item
  • Your child’s favorite bottle or cup to encourage them to drink after surgery (optional)

After surgery

When your child’s procedure is finished, their surgeon will come out to speak with you in the surgical waiting room. Your child will go to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), also known as the recovery room, after surgery.  Parents/guardians will soon be called in to the recovery room and are encouraged to sit at the bedside. Make sure to wear your ID bracelets to enter the recovery room.

The total amount of time spent in the recovery room will depend on your child’s surgery, age and how they wake up from the anesthesia. Before going home, they will need to be fully awake, drink 4-6 ounces of fluid, have the nurse evaluate their surgical site, and pain will need to be manageable.

You will be given instructions that explain how to manage pain at home, and you will be reminded to schedule a follow-up appointment. In the days following your child’s operation, a nurse will call to check in on you and your child.

Please note, we have a dedicated Same Day Surgery Unit, which allows children to undergo treatment for many pediatric surgery procedures without requiring an overnight stay in the hospital. This allows the child to rest and heal at home, where they are most comfortable.

Same-day patients

The total amount of time spent in the recovery room will depend on your child’s surgery, age and how they wake up from the anesthesia. Before going home, they will need to be fully awake, drink 4-6 ounces of fluid and have the nurse evaluate their surgical site. 

You will be given instructions that explain what care you will need to provide for your child and how to manage pain at home. The nurse will also remind you to make a follow-up appointment to see the surgeon after the operation. In the days following your child’s operation, a nurse will call to check in on you and your child.

Overnight patients

If your child is being admitted to stay overnight in the hospital, they will be moved to an inpatient room after waking up in the recovery room, when a room is available. Your child will be cared for by the medical team on the inpatient unit. There is a provider available 24/7 to handle your child’s post-surgery pain control.

If your child requires hospitalization overnight or longer, every effort is made to make them as comfortable as possible. One parent is encouraged to sleep in the hospital with them. For those children from out of town or from foreign countries, we offer the convenience of the Ronald McDonald House, which is a home away from home, allowing families to stay within walking distance from the hospital at a minimal expense. You will need to make a reservation, which our social workers can help you do.