Children

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Preparing for your child's surgery

Getting ready for surgery

If your child is scheduled for surgery, this guide will tell you what you need to know.

Talking with your child before surgery

Depending upon your child's age, it's important that you talk to them about the experience, sometimes starting well in advance. You can also ease your child's stay by taking advantage of one of our pre-admission tours and by packing the right things. Get more tips on preparing your child and how to talk to him or her about the upcoming surgical experience.

A video on what to expect

We want you be comfortable with what to expect when you arrive and what the day surgery area is like:

To hear from one of our kids of what to expect the day of surgery:

Pre-op phone call

You will be contacted two to three days before your child’s surgery. You will be asked a few questions and given some information, including the time of surgery, when to arrive and when your child should stop eating and drinking before surgery.

You will be notified if your child needs to have lab tests or a physical completed by your family physician prior to your child’s surgery.

ALERT: Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or the clinic that scheduled the surgery if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has:

  • Cold or illness symptoms the night before or the morning of surgery such as runny nose,fever, cough or rashes
  • Special health care needs that were not covered by this information

When to stop eating and drinking

When to stop eating and drinking

  • Solid food (by mouth or G-tube) -- Stop eight hours before arriving to the hospital
  • Clear liquids (by mouth or G-tube) -- Stop two hours before arriving to the hospital
  • Breast milk (by mouth or G-tube) -- Stop four hours before arriving to the hospital
  • Formula or fortified breast milk (by mouth or G-tube) -- Stop six hours before arriving to the hospital
  • Any J-tube feeds -- Stop two hours before arriving to the hospital

Types of liquid or food allowed

  • Clear liquids Enfalyte ® / Pedialyte, apple juice, white grape juice, Jell-O, popsicles, water. No red or purple liquids
  • Breast milk: Breast milk - without additives
  • Formula: Cow’s milk, infant or adult formulas; Expressed breast milk with additives
  • Usual meal: Any foods are fine

ALERT: Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or the clinic that scheduled the surgery if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has:

Cold or illness symptoms the night before or the morning of surgery such as runny nose,fever, cough or rashes
Special health care needs that were not covered by this information

For your child’s safety, it is very important that you follow these instructions the night before and the day of a procedure or surgery. The procedure or surgery may need to be rescheduled if they are not followed.

If your child has a condition like glycogen storage disease or diabetes, and can’t be without food or liquids for a long time, talk with their specialty doctor about a plan. They will talk with the doctor who is doing the procedure.

  • If your child is in the hospital on the day of surgery, the time to stop liquids and meals may be adjusted.
  • For your child’s comfort and safety, we would like you to offer your child liquids up until their NPO time.

For your child’s comfort, do not eat or drink in front of your child while they are not able to eat or drink before or after surgery.

ALERT: Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any concerns or if your child has special health care needs not covered by this information.

Pre-op wash with Chlorhexidine Gluconate (CHG)® Cloths

Why do I need to wash my child before surgery?

Carefully wipe your child the night before surgery with these pre-op cloths to help reduce the number of germs on your child’s skin. Skin with less germs means less infections after surgery. Your child will also be washed by the hospital staff just before going into surgery. Do not use these cloths if your child has an allergy or is sensitive to chlorhexidine, has burns, rashes, eczema, open wounds or dressings that can not be removed. Your child should not shave any body hair before surgery as this can also increase the chance of infection.

How do I wash my child with the pre-op cloths?

  • Washing needs to be done on the night before surgery.
  • All jewelry must be removed such as earrings, necklaces and bracelets. It needs to be kept off until after the surgery. Talk with the nurse if you are worried about taking any jewelry off for cultural or religious reasons.
  • Clean and trim your child’s fingernails and toenails. Remove any nail polish.
  • Wash your child first with regular soap and shampoo. Rinse and dry well.
  • Take the pre-op cloths and wipe them on the surgical area. Use all the clothes and wipe the area for 3 minutes. Let the skin dry. Do not rinse the area with water unless a rash or redness starts.
  • Do not use them on the face, ears, eyes, nose, mouth or the private/genital area. Rinse these areas with lots of clean, warm water if the cloths do touch them as they may become red and irritated.
  • Do not use any baby oil or lotions. These products may attract dirt to the skin.
  • Dress your child in clean, washed clothes or pajamas after each wash.
  • Wash any comfort items such as a blanket or stuffed toy that may be coming along with your child to the hospital.
  • Do not flush the cloths down the toilet. Throw them away in the trash.

What should you bring?

The choice of what to bring from home can make a big difference for your child please bring the following:

  • Special toy or blanket
  • Sippy cup or bottle used at home (please give to the nurse in pre op)
  • Identification card
  • Something to read and some snacks for while you are in the waiting area
  • Just in case your stay is longer than you expect, please pack a bag with extra clothes for both you and your child
  • Even if you are planning on going home the same day, your child will need to rest the day of surgery to have a full recovery. Please keep this in mind if there are other siblings at home.
Get more details on what you should bring.
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Proud to be a Level I Children’s Surgery Center

The highest-rated pediatric surgical center in Wisconsin

Recognized by the American College of Surgeons, our Level I verification represents the highest level of recognition for hospitals that perform complex surgical procedures in newborns and children. Learn more about this recognition.

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