Surgical operating room

Though an operating room can look intimidating, the highly skilled and compassionate people who work at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin create a caring, trusting environment for children and families.

While we are preparing your child for surgery and giving anesthesia, he or she can hold a teddy bear or another comforting item. Even when you’re out of the room, you can feel good knowing that our staff members will reassure your child by talking and even singing as he or she falls asleep. During the operation we will update you regularly and encourage you to ask questions about the procedure.

How many surgeries do you perform?

In a single day, staff in the 14 operating rooms and three special procedure rooms can handle as many as 70 cases. In one year, surgeons at Children's perform about 15,000 procedures.

What types of surgeries do you perform?

Our surgeons perform a wide variety of surgeries, ranging from ear tubes to organ transplants. Many disorders that used to be life threatening or fatal, such as diaphragmatic hernias and heart problems, like hypoplastic left heart syndrome, can now be surgically treated with great results.

How many people will care for my child during surgery?

Many people will work together to take care of your child and make sure the operation runs smoothly.

Our surgical services team includes:

  • Circulating nurses and anesthesiologists. As a team, nurses and anesthesiologists will meet with your family and answer your questions. Circulating nurses help the anesthesiologist put your child to sleep and position and pad your child to make him or her comfortable during long operations. Most importantly, circulating nurses document the surgical procedure, including medications your child receives, and sends specimens to the lab. The nurse will also keep you informed about what is going on.
  • Surgical technicians. Surgical technicians are responsible for the sterile set-up of instruments and equipment needed for each operation and for handing instruments to the surgeon during the operation.
  • Pediatric surgeons. Our pediatric surgeons specialize in different areas of surgery, including heart, craniofacial, dentalENT (ear, nose and throat), eye, general, neurosurgery, neurology, orthopedic, plastic and reconstructive, organ transplant, and urology. They perform a wide variety of operations, ranging from straightforward to very complex.
  • Pediatric anesthesiologists. Pediatric anesthesiologists are experts in safely putting and keeping children to sleep. They monitor your child throughout the operation and provide medication to keep your child’s vital signs normal and to control pain.
  • Anesthesia technicians. Anesthesia technicians check and set-up the equipment and restock anesthesia supplies.
  • OR Manager. An operating room (OR) manager oversees the staff and assigns surgical technicians and circulating nurses to each operating room.
  • Pediatric pharmacists. In every surgery area we have a pharmacy that is staffed at least 10 hours a day by a pediatric pharmacist. Being closer to the patient decreases the time it takes to give your child medications. In addition, medication orders can be clarified more quickly, medications can be anticipated and mixed with less waste, and pain medications can be started during the operation instead of after children are awake.

Surgery outside of the operating room

Sometimes we can perform surgical procedures without moving a critically ill child from the intensive care unit. Some of the procedures we may perform outside of a traditional operating room include:

  • Placing a catheter to relieve pressure on a child's brain
  • Putting a child on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a type of heart/lung bypass)