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Having a surgery or procedure is a big event for you and your child. The best way to prepare for your child’s surgery is to know as much as possible about what will happen and to share that information in an age-appropriate way with your child. To help you plan for your child's procedure, here’s what to expect before, during and after your visit.

Your child’s surgery may be scheduled at Carle Foundation Hospital or at one of our surgery centers in Champaign or Danville, IL. You and your child’s doctor will decide on the best Carle location based on specific medical needs.
 

Before Your Child's Surgery

Attend your preoperative appointment. 
For some procedures, your child may need a preoperative appointment. During this appointment, you’ll meet the surgeon and possibly some members of your child’s care team. Your child may also need to have blood drawn or a physical exam so the care team can make sure your child is ready for the day of surgery. This is a great time to ask questions about the procedure, as well as what to expect during recovery. 

Gather important information. 
Take time in the days leading up to the surgery to collect:

  • All paperwork given to you by your child’s doctor(s)
  • Insurance card(s) and related information
  • Legal papers (If you’re not a parent with legal custody, bring legal papers that allow you to admit your child to the hospital or authorize your consent to your child’s surgery. Without these legal papers, your child’s surgery or hospital stay may be canceled.)
  • List of medications your child is taking, including dosages

Pack a bag.
Depending on how long your child will be at Carle, you’ll need to pack enough to get through your stay. This could include:

  • Comfortable daytime clothing or a favorite pair of pajamas 
  • Favorite play or personal items, including a small toy, blanket, pacifier, book, video or music device (with headphones), phone, tablet, etc.
  • Glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids 
  • Appropriate supplies or home equipment (including ventilator or CPAP) for children with specialized wheelchairs or tubes (feeding, urinary, tracheostomy)
  • For overnight or extended stays: personal care items, including hairbrush, comb and barrettes, toothpaste, dental retainers, shampoo and other toiletries, special bottle or cup, homework assignments,  activities for parents (books, tablets, etc.) and pictures of family, friends or pets 

Whatever you decide to pack, please be sure to label personal items. We’ll do our best to help you keep track of them, but it’s your responsibility. Please do not bring any prohibited items.

Each department or clinic may have specific guidelines, so ask in advance if you have any questions.

Monitor your child’s health closely.
Tell your child’s care team about any important health changes within three weeks before surgery, including:

  • Fever
  • Cold or flu symptoms
  • Exposure to chicken pox, measles, strep throat or other illnesses

If your child gets sick in the week before the operation, call your surgeon's office to reschedule, or call pre-op if it is the day of surgery at (217) 383-3063. If symptoms related to your child's surgery or diagnosis change, make sure to update the surgeon. Your child's surgeon may want to reschedule the appointment based on how your child is doing.

Additional resources for your child and family
Child Life Services
Counseling Resources 
Virtual perioperative area tour video (coming soon)
Having Surgery booklet for pediatric patients
 

The Day of Your Child's Surgery

The day of your child’s procedure can be hectic, so here are a few tips to make sure the day goes smoothly.

Help lower your child’s risk of infection.

  • Make sure your child’s hair and body are clean. Give your child a full body shower or bath the night before and/or the morning of surgery. 
  • If your doctor wants you to use a special skin disinfectant soap or wipes, we’ll give you instructions on how to use them.
  • Older children should avoid shaving or using  hair removal products at the site of surgery for one week before surgery.
  • Don’t get new tattoos or piercings in the three months before surgery.

Pay attention to eating and drinking rules.
Follow the rules you were given on the phone and in the surgery/procedure checklist you received to make sure your child’s stomach is empty at the time of anesthesia. If it’s not empty, stomach contents can come up and enter the lungs (called aspiration). Aspiration can cause serious problems. If you don’t follow these instructions, your child may not be able to have the surgery or procedure.

Give yourself plenty of time.
Make sure to plan enough time to pack your bags, get your child in the car, drive to the location where the surgery takes place, park and get checked in. Being late to your check-in time can delay your child's surgery, as well as other children's appointments.

Check in before surgery.
You’ll receive a phone call after 1 p.m. on the business day before your child’s surgery giving you a time to arrive at the hospital for check-in. Make sure to arrive at the check-in desk at the given time to get your child settled before the surgery team calls you back.

Pre-procedural care
To get you and your child ready for surgery we’ll: 

  • Put a name band on your child, get their height, weight and vital signs, do a physical assessment and put on a hospital gown.
  • Ask questions important for your child’s safety and have a parent or guardian sign consent forms.
  • The anesthesiologist and surgeon will come in to answer questions.
  • A child life specialist may visit to provide developmentally appropriate books, games and medical play to help reduce your child’s anxiety and stress about their procedure.
  • Younger children may be given an oral liquid medicine to help them relax. Older children may have an IV placed and be given medicine through the IV for relaxation just before going back to surgery.
  • You may stay with your child until he/she goes into the operating/procedure room.

Updates during surgery
The hospital provides pagers to notify family of any updates during the surgery. Feel free to take a walk, grab a bite to eat or relax while you wait.
 

After Your Child's Surgery 

Recovery room 
After surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room, also known as the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), where they’ll be monitored to make sure they’re safe and comfortable. Once your child is awake, you’ll be reunited in phase II recovery or an inpatient unit if your child is staying overnight. Each child is different, so wake up times can vary. Our goal is to have you be with your child as soon as possible.

When you’re at your child’s bedside after the procedure, it's useful to know:

  • Children waking up from anesthesia may cry and seem confused. This is common.
  • Your child may be wearing a mask and breathing with some extra oxygen.
  • IVs and tubes may be visible. These are to help keep your child stable after surgery.
  • Pain and discomfort are part of most surgeries. If you're worried about your child's pain or have questions about medication, don't be afraid to ask your child's care team.

Discharge

  • Depending on your child's procedure, you’ll either help your child get dressed to go home or meet them in their inpatient room.
  • Your nurse will review discharge instructions with you before you leave.
  • You’ll be instructed by your doctor about any care needed at home, medications and follow-up appointments.
  • Please ask questions so you’re confident about going home. If you have questions later, don’t hesitate to call the number provided in your discharge paperwork.
  • When your child is officially discharged, a staff member or volunteer will help get them to your car, often with your child in a wheelchair if they’re unable to walk easily with just your help.

Follow-up appointments
The surgeon or care team will inform you of post-operative appointments your child needs. You may be able to schedule them while still at the hospital, or the team will give you a number to call to schedule later.

Care at home after surgery

  • Stock up on simple foods and drinks, like broth, apple juice, popsicles and Jell-O. It’s not uncommon for kids' stomachs to be upset after a procedure. Start with soft, bland foods (oatmeal, bread, crackers, bananas, yogurt, etc.). Follow the doctor's discharge instructions about food and wait until your child is ready to try something more filling. 
  • Plan some quiet play and games. Your child may be tired and sore, but children are also prone to boredom. Find quiet games or toys they can play with in bed or on the couch. Books or puzzles are great options.
  • Limit activity. Let siblings know their brother or sister will need to take it easy for a while and that quiet play is great for helping their sibling's recovery.
  • Be aware of possible behavior changes. You may notice changes in your child's behavior when they return home after their surgery. These behavior changes are normal, especially for young children who have less ability to understand and talk about it. (These are usually temporary, and for most children, behavioral changes after a surgery or procedure last no more than two weeks.) 
    • Young children may need more attention and may seem upset and demanding. They may have nightmares, poor appetites or bathroom accidents, even if they’re potty-trained.  
    • Older children may act younger, test limits or become withdrawn or clingy. 
What can you do to help your child return to their normal routine?
  • Be understanding, set gentle limits while encouraging independence, and give them chances to play.
  • Encourage your child to talk about their surgery/procedure, and let them know that having surgery can be upsetting. 
  • If changes in behavior continue for six weeks or more, please talk to your child’s doctor.

Treated Conditions

Biliary colic
Biliary dyskinesia
Chest wall deformities
Cholecystitis
Chordee
Circumcision
Circumcision revision
Colostomy or Ileostomy

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