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No matter how simple or complex your child's operation will be, we understand how you feel: No procedure is small when it's your child. But at Children's Hospital Colorado, we perform nearly 25,000 surgeries each year, and every one of our team members is specially trained to meet the needs of your child and family.
Rest assured, you are in the best hands. To help you and your family properly plan for your child's procedure, we're sharing what to expect before, during and after your visit.
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 and their siblings. You'll want to know all about your child's condition or illness, the procedure and how to find your way around the hospital. Your family will want to know what to expect, too, so we've provided some hints and tips for talking to them.
This video helps you and your child understand what to expect from surgery.
Your child will likely be scared or have concerns when they learn they need surgery. It's important to address their feelings and concerns and to talk openly about what they can expect. This will help them prepare mentally and emotionally and can make the day of surgery go more smoothly.
The pre-surgery tour at Children's Colorado will help you and your child envision what the day of the operation will be like. Many parents and patients believe the tour was the best way to understand what happens before, during and after the operation. Knowing what to expect helped them feel much calmer and more relaxed on the day of the procedure.
Pre-surgery tours are led by our child life specialists. Child life specialists have special training to discuss the surgery with your child in a non-threatening and age-appropriate manner. These experts are sensitive to your child's needs and make every effort to make the hospital environment feel comfortable to your child.
The tour takes about one hour. During the tour, you will see an operating room, become familiar with the layout of the hospital, and have a chance to talk about what happens the day of surgery.
Generally, younger kids have a shorter memory, so it's best to tour the hospital closer to the date of surgery. Older kids do better with more time to prepare – so it's a good idea to tour the hospital with them further in advance of the surgery. The following age guidelines can help you decide when to schedule your tour.
Please call 720-777-3991 or email us with two tour options that will work for you. We will contact you within a few days to confirm a date and a time. Note: pre-surgery tours are only available at our hospital on Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.
Please provide the following information in your email:
If you need to cancel your tour, please do so as soon as possible. Email us at SurgeryTours@childrenscolorado.org or call 720-777-3991.
Children's Colorado on Anschutz Medical Campus is home to one of the area's best health libraries: the Melvin and Elaine Wolf Foundation Family Health Library. Located on the first floor of the hospital, the library has information on illnesses, wellness and parenting and in-depth research on medical conditions. Staff librarians are on hand to help you find exactly what you need.
You can also do research on your own, using books or the internet to collect information. Our family librarian can also email you resources if you're not on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.
Once you've settled on a date for your child's procedure and familiarized yourself with what to expect, it's time to start planning for the big day. Here are tasks you can do in the few days leading up to your child's surgery so that you are ready to arrive at the hospital and get checked in on time.
During your pre-operative consultation with your child's surgeon or family doctor, you can bring a list of questions to help you understand your child's condition and what to expect from the procedure.
This list of questions can help you get the conversation started:
Talk to other parents and patients who've experienced the same procedure. They can help prepare you for what's ahead and offer the support you may need.
For overnight hospital stays, two adults may stay with the patient, but brothers or sisters may not stay overnight. Visitors under the age of 13 are not allowed in clinical areas but can wait in the waiting area if they are supervised by someone over the age of 13.
To make this easier on your family, it's best to make arrangements for your other children to stay with family or friends so you can be with your child in the hospital.
Instead of worrying about paperwork the night before the surgery, take time in the days leading up to the surgery to collect:
Depending on how long your child will be at Children's Colorado, you'll need to pack enough to get through your stay. This could include:
Whatever you decide to pack, please be sure to label personal items and clothing you bring to the hospital. We'll do our best to help you keep track of them, but it is your responsibility.
Please do not bring the following items:
Each department or clinic may have specific guidelines, so ask in advance if you have any questions.
Sometimes, your child's surgery may take place at a different location than the one you have previously visited to see the doctor. Make sure to check your paperwork for the exact location of the surgery, and then find driving directions and parking information for the right Children's Colorado location.
Like other visits to Children's Colorado, you will need to pre-register your child for their surgery appointment. A staff member from surgery registration will call you at least three days before your child's appointment to confirm that the necessary information is complete and correct.
Please have the following information handy:
While on the phone with the surgery registration representative, you should also confirm the location of your child's surgery to make sure nothing has changed.
For some procedures, your child may need a pre-operative appointment. During this appointment, you'll be able to meet the surgeon and possibly some members of his or her care team. This is a great time to ask questions about the procedure, as well as what to expect during recovery.
Your child may also need to have blood drawn or a physical exam performed so that the care team can make sure your child is ready for the day of surgery.
If your child becomes sick within the week before the operation, call the surgery department. Tell your child's care team about important health changes within three weeks before surgery. These could include:
If specific 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.
The day of your child's procedure can be hectic, so make sure to plan ahead and have everything ready to go in the morning. Here are a few tips to make sure the day goes smoothly.
To help prevent surgical infections, please have your child take a bath or shower the night before surgery or the morning of surgery.
You can help lower your child's risk of infection by following these instructions to make sure your child’s skin is clean:
Follow these rules before your child's surgery or procedure to make sure their stomach is empty at the time of anesthesia. If your child's stomach is not empty at the time of anesthesia, stomach contents can come up and enter the lungs (called aspiration). Aspiration can cause serious problems.
|Type of food and drink:||Child can have until:|
|Solid foods (for example, meat, eggs, yogurt and bread)||8 hours before arrival for surgery or procedure|
||6 hours before arrival for surgery or procedure|
|Breast milk||4 hours before arrival for surgery or procedure|
||2 hours before arrival for surgery or procedure|
||2 hours before arrival for surgery or procedure|
|Gum, candy or mints||Do not give to your child on the day they are having anesthesia.|
Make sure to plan enough time to pack your bags, get your child in the car and drive to the location where the surgery takes place. Being late to your check-in time can delay your child's surgery, as well as other children's appointments.
During your pre-registration call, the surgery registration representative will give you a time to check in. Make sure to arrive at the check-in desk at the given time to pay and get your child settled before the surgery team calls you back.
Your surgeon will tell you if your child may need extra blood during the operation. If so, we have a full-service Blood Donor Center to meet your child's needs. Autologous (self) donations are an option for some patients. A patient can donate their own blood in advance to be stored and used during their surgery or operation.
We also encourage parents and friends to donate blood, as it's a great way to support your child and to maintain a supply of blood for all children in the hospital.
Directed blood donations (blood given for a specific patient) can also be made by people known to the patient or parents. These donations should be made at least three days before the operation so that all testing may be completed in time.
Contact our Blood Donor Center at 720-777-5398 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
The hospital providers pagers to parents so they can be notified of any updates during their child's surgery. Feel free to talk a walk, grab a bite to eat or just relax while you wait.
Parents are always welcome and may stay with your child overnight. Every patient room is a private room complete with a double bed. One or both parents may stay with their child.
For family and friends (excluding parents or guardians), general visiting hours are from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. A patient may only have up to two visitors (not including parents) in the room at one time. Visiting policies can vary based on location and department, so please ask if you have any questions.
Please keep in mind:
When your child starts to wake up, the nurse will bring you to their bedside so you can sit with them. Immediately following the procedure, it's useful to know:
Depending on your child's procedure, you will either:
When your child is officially discharged, the attending nurse or other team member will help you get to your car, often with your child in a wheelchair. There are volunteers and nurses available to help you get your child in the car if they are unable to do so with just your help.
Once the doctor has given the discharge order, your child's healthcare team will begin to make the arrangements for a safe and comfortable transition home. We may need a little time to coordinate services with other community providers if your child requires any special care, medical equipment and supplies.
You will be instructed by your doctor about any care needed at home, medications and follow-up appointments. Think through any of you questions or concerns before you leave the hospital and be sure to get them answered so that you are confident about going home. If you do forget a question, do not hesitate to call the number provided in your discharge paperwork to follow up.
Here are a few questions that may be good to ask:
The surgeon or care team will inform you of post-operative appointments that 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.
Parents and caregivers can use the following tips to help children adjust after a surgery or procedure.
This can include items like broth, apple juice, Kool-Aid, popsicles and Jell-O. It is not uncommon for kids' stomachs to be upset after a procedure. Start with softer, bland foods like 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. Your child should start to feel hungry in 12 to 24 hours.
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. Don't forget the books!
Also 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.
A special dinner, new book or toy can make coming home a celebration, as well as help entertain your child while they recover.
Children may act differently after a surgery or procedure. These behavior changes are normal, especially for young children who have less ability to understand and talk about it. For most children, behavioral changes after a surgery or procedure last no more than two weeks.
What to expect:
You can help return your child return to their normal routine by:
If you are concerned about your child's actions or condition following a surgery or procedure, call your doctor's office or the specialist who performed the surgery or procedure. Remember: We are here for you.