Children Cope Well With Surgery When Prepped in Advance!

Before Surgery

Preparing for Your Child's Surgery

Any medical procedure is a big event in a child's life. Studies show that children cope better with medical procedures when they are well prepared ahead of time. Keep reading to know what to expect before surgery.

Helpful Hints

There are many ways parents can help make an upcoming procedure easier for their child.

  1. Answer your child's questions honestly.
  2. Put your child at ease by showing your confidence, not your concerns.
  3. Listen to your child's comments and be sensitive to hidden fears.
  4. Assure your child that illness and medical treatments are not punishments.
  5. If you have any fears or anxieties about the procedure, discuss them with your child's doctor away from your child and before the day of the procedure.
  6. Current visitor restrictions only allow two parents or legal guardian per patient. No siblings allowed.
  7. Continue to take prescribed medication until the night before surgery, unless directed otherwise by your doctor. Avoid the use of Ibuprofen, Aspirin, or Naproxen two weeks prior to surgery unless otherwise directed by your doctor. If your child uses an inhaler, be sure to bring it on the day of surgery.

Day of Surgery

  1. A list of questions for the doctor or nurse.
  2. Any paperwork your child's doctor has asked you to bring on the day of surgery.
  3. The patient's current insurance card.
  4. The parent or legal guardian accompanying the patient must provide a current photo ID.
  5. Your child's medication list. Include all meds taken during the past two weeks. If your child uses an inhaler, please bring it with you.
  6. Your child's favorite blanket, stuffed animal, doll, book, or pacifier. Older children may want to bring a hand-held video game.
  7. A bottle or sippy cup, if needed. If your child drinks formula or milk, please bring that with you. The surgery center will provide apple juice, sprite, "Gatorade", water, and popsicles.
  8. An extra pair of clothes for your child. Dress your child in comfortable clothes. Pajamas are acceptable.
  9. The night before surgery, your child should have a bath or shower to help prevent infection.
  10. Remove all jewelry (this includes body piercings) and nail polish.
  1. Allow your child to make choices, when possible, to help them feel more comfortable and in control. For example, let them choose a favorite toy (a blanket, stuffed animal, doll, or book) to bring to the center.
  2. It is very important for you to feel your best so you are better equipped to help your child.
  3. Smile! Put your child at ease by showing your confidence, not your concerns.
  1. Unless your doctor directs you otherwise, the patient cannot eat any solid food after 11 pm the night before surgery (This means not even a piece of gum or hard candy can be given to your child).
  2. The patient may have formula or milk up to 6 hours prior to their scheduled arrival time and breast milk up to 4 hours prior to their scheduled arrival time.
  3. They may have apple juice, water, Pedialyte, or sprite up to 2 hours before their scheduled arrival time.
  4. Not following the eating and drinking restrictions may cause serious problems and put your child's health at risk.
  5. Follow these instructions carefully. If you do not, the procedure may be delayed or cancelled.

Day of Surgery

Check-In Instructions

  1. Check in at the receptionist's desk. You will be given directions as to where you should wait.
  2. A legal guardian must sign surgery consent forms for patients who are under the age of 18 years. Surgery cannot be done if the consent forms are not signed.
  3. Present your insurance card and parent or guardian photo ID when checking in.


"Pre-Op" is where you will wait before your child's procedure. While you're in the Pre-Op area, we will ask questions about your child's health and review the information provided on the online health assessment form.

  1. We will weigh and measure your child upon arrival to pre-op.
  2. Your child will be given a hospital gown that ties in the back. You may leave on your child's underpants, diapers, and socks.
  3. Toilet-trained children will be asked to empty their bladders.
  4. Female children age 12 years and older or those who have begun menses must provide a urine sample. Please alert the receptionist if the patient needs to urinate prior to admission to the preop area.
  5. We will listen to your child's heart and check your child's temperature and breathing.
  6. Jewelry, nail polish, contact lenses, eyeglasses, and any metal hair clips must be removed from your child.
  7. A member of the anesthesia team will ask about your child's medical history.
  8. Shortly before your child's procedure, they may be given a small amount of medicine to drink to help them relax. Your child may become drowsy, dizzy, or wobbly. Hold your child securely or keep them in bed with the side rails up to prevent potential injuries.
  9. Children 12 years and older may have an intravenous line inserted to prepare for anesthesia. If this causes anxiety for your child, the staff will discuss the concerns with the anesthesiologist.

Sometimes there are unavoidable delays in the operating room schedule. Our staff will keep you informed if delays occur.

  1. A staff member from our Anesthesiology department will provide information about the anesthesia plan for your child.
  2. Anesthesia care services are billed separately from other charges. Please call your insurance company to make sure they will pay for the cost of the anesthesia. You will be billed for costs not covered by your insurance.
  3. Anesthesia is given to your child using a clear plastic mask that covers their nose and mouth. It may look a little scary, but it is not at all painful.
  4. Depending on the procedure, your child may be given intravenous (I.V.) medicine and fluids through a tube in their arm while they are asleep. The I.V. will still be in place when they awaken.
  1. When it is time for your child's procedure, a member of the Operating Room (OR) team will come to your child's bedside. You will have “hugs and kisses” time with your child, and then a member of the healthcare team will take your child to the OR. .
  2. Your child will not be left alone from this point until he is able to rejoin you. The OR nurse and many others will watch over your child with tender, loving care.
  3. One adult must stay in the facility at all times while the child is in the surgery or recovery area. This is so your child's doctor can find you in case there are any questions.
  1. Depending on what type of surgery your child is having, they may be in the operating room for just a short time or for several hours. Your doctor will tell you how long the procedure should take.
  2. Your child's scheduled surgery time is an estimate. It is important that we take as much time as necessary with each patient. If you have any questions or concerns, please ask a staff member.
  3. You will be asked to wait in the lobby area while your child is in surgery.
  4. The parent or guardian must remain in the surgery center at all times.
  5. While waiting for your child, please begin to prepare for your child’s return by preparing a bottle or having a sippy cup readily available, if needed. Your child may feel thirsty and eager for a drink as they are waking up.
  1. After surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room, where they will be closely monitored by a recovery nurse who is solely dedicated to their care.
  2. While your child is in the recovery room, you will meet with your child’s doctor. You will be given information about the surgery, instructions for their care at home, and follow-up.
  3. When your child is ready, they will be transferred to the "Phase 2" Stepdown recovery area where you will be reunited with your child. At this point, they will be waking from anesthesia but still somewhat drowsy.
  4. After arrival to the Stepdown area, they will be offered clear liquids to drink or a popsicle.
  5. Don't be alarmed if your child acts upset (crying, restlessness) as the anesthesia wears off. This is a very common effect. It is nothing to be afraid of, and it does not mean that anything went wrong.
  6. A nurse will write down the information you need to care for your child.
  1. The best way to comfort your child is with quiet words and gentle touches. Some children may be somewhat uncomfortable. They may experience nausea. They may feel pain that requires medicine.
  2. The nurses will check your child frequently. They will check your child's wakefulness, ability to drink and keep down liquids, and the need for pain medicine. Your child may feel irritable and even sad. This is normal. Allow them to express their feelings. Treat them with gentleness and understanding.
  3. Encourage your child to sip small amounts of liquid or to chew on ice chips provided by the nurse.
  4. Remember to stay calm. Your child may become more agitated if you are anxious.
  1. In the rare event, your child needs overnight observation, you will go with them to a room at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
  2. Observation allows your child to have nursing care until your child's doctor decides it is OK for them to go home.
  3. A parent or guardian must stay overnight with the child in the hospital.
  1. Before your child leaves the center, you will receive written instructions regarding their home care, medications & follow-up (if needed).
  2. Follow these instructions and you may be amazed at how quickly your child is back to their normal activities.
  1. Please make sure to collect your personal items before leaving the center.
  1. For their safety, your child may ride in a wheelchair when ready to leave the surgery center. They may feel dizzy, so use caution and support when transferring from wheelchair to car and with their activities at home.

Day After Surgery

  1. You will be contacted by a surgery center nurse to assess the progress of your child, answer questions you may have, and assess your child’s surgery center experience.
  2. Remember! If you have urgent concerns about your child, contact your doctor and not the surgery center. The office will have a doctor on call 24 hours a day to answer questions.
Young Girl Talking to Male Doctor in Intensive Care Unit