Type: Caregiver Advice
Date: July 6th 2015
When your pediatrician recommends surgery for your child, it’s natural to have questions. A lot of questions. We’ve selected five of the most common and answered them here.
When your pediatrician recommends surgery for your child, it’s natural to have questions. A lot of questions. We’ve selected five of the most common and answered them here. We hope this information helps you and your child have a more relaxed surgical experience.
Will my child receive anesthesia? Is anesthesia safe for children?
Questions about anesthesia top commonly asked list, and we understand why. Many adults are nervous about anesthesia, and it’s normal to be even more nervous when it comes to your child. The good news is Yes, it is safe for children to receive anesthesia. You may want to ask if the attending anesthesiologist specializes in pediatric anesthesiology. You should discuss with the hospital or surgical center if your child will be anesthetized. This is also a good time to discuss your child’s health and medical history, possible risks and side effects of anesthesia, and ways to reduce those risks.
Why can’t my child eat or drink before surgery?
One of the ways you can reduce your child’s risk of an anesthesia complication is to follow all dietary restrictions. Both children and adults should have an empty stomach when receiving anesthesia. This is because during the procedure, food or liquids in the stomach may come back up into the throat and drain into the windpipe or lungs. Also, anesthesia can make children feel a little nauseated when they first wake. An empty stomach reduces their risk of vomiting after surgery.
What should I do if my child is sick the day of the procedure?
If your child is ill, you should call the hospital or surgical center and speak with your preoperative nurse. Explain your child’s symptoms and answer any questions as best you can. The preoperative nurse will be able to advise you whether or not your child’s procedure will need to be rescheduled.
Can I go back with my child until they are asleep?
Letting go of your child when you are nervous is understandably difficult. However, for safety reasons it is not recommended that caregivers accompany children to the operating room. We have found that if you can relax, smile, and trust the doctors or nurses who will be escorting your child into the operating room, the more comfortable and relaxed she will be, too. The best thing you can do for your child is to show her that everything is going to be okay.
My child looks (or is acting) different. Is my child okay?
Many of the most common pediatric surgeries involve the head or neck, which means these areas may swell after the procedure. It is also a common safety practice to gently tape the eyes shut during most surgeries. This protects the eye and reduces drying, but may cause the skin around the eye to appear red or puffy. Puffiness may also be caused by extra fluids from the IV.
After surgery, children may be emotional or tearful. This may be due to effects of the anesthesia, anxiety at having been separated from caregivers, or physical discomfort. You can reassure your child by staying calm and letting her know that she’s safe. And if your child is having surgery at Pediatric Surgery Centers, a slushie often helps, too.
Don’t see your question here? Check out our Caregiver Info section for more commonly asked questions and our answers.