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Surgery Tips for Children

Since younger patients often have special needs, following are some tips to make sure your child's surgery goes as smoothly as possible.

You can help your child most by being informed and honest. This will help the child cope in a positive way.

Remember, a parent or legal guardian must accompany the child or teenager and remain at the hospital during surgery. Be sure to make childcare arrangements for brothers and sisters, since they will not be permitted in any surgical or recovery areas. If you must bring other children, please bring an adult who can supervise them in the waiting area while you are with your child.

The Day of Surgery

  • The morning of the surgery, be sure to pack any special formula your young child may need. Feel free to bring along your child's favorite stuffed animal or blanket from home.
  • You and your child will meet the anesthesiologist. To decrease your child's anxiety, medication may be administered 30 minutes to one hour before surgery. There are various types of anesthesia care that exist (described earlier) that will be discussed with you.
  • We realize that being separated from your child is difficult, so minimizing the time you are apart is one of our main concerns. Parents, guardians or significant others (up to two) are welcome to stay in the holding area with children awaiting surgery.
  • Keep in mind that a child life specialist or Registered Nurse will be available to help ease any anxieties you or your child may have before the surgery.
  • Whether your child walks to the operating room, or is carried in the arms of a nurse or doctor, you may accompany your child up to the doors of the surgical area.
  • In most cases, a child life specialist will stay and provide support to parents and escort them back to the waiting area. MetroHealth's staff will attempt to keep families informed of their child's status while in surgery, especially in cases exceeding one hour in length.
  • Parents or family will be notified when your child is brought to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) recovery area. As soon as your child wakes up after surgery, one adult will be welcome to stay with the child. He or she will be encouraged to hold and comfort the child, offering fluids when appropriate. There may be times when parents will be asked to leave the PACU for short periods of time.
  • When your child is ready to be discharged, written and verbal post-surgical instructions will be given. You may find it helpful to have another adult along to help watch your child while you're driving home.

Managing Your Child's Pain

Some children as young as age 3 are able to respond to pediatric pain assessment scales. It may be helpful for your child to practice using the pain scale. You can help your child to remember past painful experiences, such as a finger prick, earache or skinned knee, and allow him or her to select a face to describe the pain. We will provide an opportunity to show your child the following faces and ask him or her to use them following surgery.

Pain Scale

  • Face 0 = Very happy because it doesn't hurt at all
  • Face 2 = Hurts just a little bit
  • Face 4 = Hurts a little more
  • Face 6 = Hurts even more
  • Face 8 = Hurts a whole lot
  • Face 10 = Hurts as much as you can imagine although you don't have to be crying to feel this bad