Your Visit

Surgery (Inpatient and Outpatient)

Published On 09/04/2012

Preparing your family and your child for surgery is important.  If your child is having surgery at Le Bonheur East Surgery Center, click here. For more information on surgery services, click here.

Before Surgery

Here are some ways to prepare for your child’s surgery:

Pre-Operative Preparation Tour

This free program is led by a child life specialist trained in helping children and families cope with hospitalization and illness. Touring the surgery department and hospital will give your child a chance to build trust, gain control over the experience and see the sights, sounds and events that will occur the day of the procedure. To schedule a pre-op tour, please call 901-287-6021. If you can't make it to the hospital for a tour, please watch the pre-operative preparation video. 

Pre-Operative Screening Assessment

A nurse from the pre-op screening office will complete registration information over the phone two to seven days prior to your child’s surgery. An appointment may be required prior to surgery if medically necessary. To save time on the day of surgery, please fill out the pre-op screening patient form (pdf) and bring it with you or fax it before surgery to 901-287-3335. If you have any questions, call the pre-op screening office at 901-266-6524.

The Day Before Surgery

  • Make sure your child is healthy. If your child is not feeling well, please call your hospital contact and let them know.
  • Follow all the instructions your child’s surgeon provided, particularly eating, drinking and medication use.
  • Make necessary arrangements to stay at the hospital during your child’s surgery, dress comfortably and make a plan for staying overnight with your child or arranging help if needed to go home with your child.
  • Remove any jewelry on your child and leave them at home so that they are not misplaced. It is also important to take off any nail polish your child might be wearing.
  • Prepare your child. Below is a list of age-appropriate ways to prepare your child and family for surgery.

Emotional Support for Your Child and Family

  • Infant: Keep your baby’s routine as normal as possible, and let the nursing staff know your baby’s schedule. As a parent, it is important to remain calm and patient you’re your baby. Your baby will be able to sense if you are frightened or stressed, so positive assurance, gestures and a calm voice or touch can mean everything to your baby. The brief period before surgery when the baby cannot eat or drink can be difficult. Plan to distract, rock, walk and comfort your baby during this time.
  • Toddler: Read books about going to the hospital, and use interactive play with dolls and stuffed animals. Give simple explanations and be careful of the words you use. Let your child bring a security item from home and a favorite book to help pass the time before surgery. It is normal for toddlers to cry and be fussy, clingy, angry, or have tantrums. Give a lot of love and let your child know that you will be nearby.
  • Preschooler:  Your child should be told of the surgery several days before the procedure, and would benefit from a pre-op tour. Tell the truth in simple terms and answer all of your child’s questions. Make sure your child knows why he/she is having surgery and talk to them about any misconceptions he/she may have. Use pictures, books, stuffed animals or toys to help your child understand. Your child may have temper tantrums or be uncooperative; remember to have patience and provide comfort and security to your child.
  • School-aged child:  Tour the facility and allow your child to ask as many questions as needed. Some children may not ask questions they think they are supposed to know about, leading a parent to think the child understands what surgery and hospitalization involve. Read books, use pictures and have your child explain to you what the process will be like. Give your child as many choices as possible to increase your child’s feeling of control, and allow them to bring comfort items from home. Encourage your child’s friends to write letters or send cards.
  • Teenager: Allow your teen to be a part of the decision making process. Encourage him/her to write down questions they have for their doctors and nurses, or keep a journal of the experience. Reading books and looking up information about their surgery on the internet will help your teen understand what he/she will go through. Teens are often reluctant to admit they do not understand. Parents may need to explain treatment in several different ways, without making the teen feel uncomfortable. Privacy is very important for teens. Allow them to bring comfort items from home. Ask friends from school to call, text or send cards during recovery.
  • Siblings: Siblings often worry with their brother or sister is having surgery. They may feel guilty, lonely or fearful of what is to come. It is important that siblings are involved in conversations about the surgery in words they can understand. Give siblings the choice of visiting, and give them lots of compliments and hugs. Read books about going to the hospital with the entire family. Keep their routines as normal as possible and allow them to ask questions and discuss the surgery.
  • Parents: Take care of yourself. Simplify your life during this time and do not be afraid to ask for help. Remaining positive and calm can help reduce your child’s anxiety. Be with your child as much as possible. Your presence alone gives comfort. Do as much research as possible about your child’s surgery or procedure so that you feel prepared.

The Day of Surgery

Arriving at the Hospital

Your first stop will be the surgery registration area on the 2nd floor of the hospital. Your child’s name will be called, and you will be directed to back to the surgery area. There is a large lobby area with televisions, tables and comfortable chairs for you and your family to wait.

Just Before Surgery

  • Your child will change into a hospital gown and receive an ID bracelet with his/her name, birth date and hospital ID number.
  • Your child’s vital signs will be taken, and many of the same questions you have already answered will be asked again. This is to ensure your child’s safety during the operation.
  • An anesthesiologist will come and answer any last questions or concerns you may have regarding your child’s sedation for surgery. You will have the option of changing into surgical attire and going into the operating room with your child. This way, your face will be the last thing your child sees before he/she falls asleep for surgery. Your anesthesiologist will discuss this in more detail, and determine your comfort level.
  • Your child will smell the different anesthesia flavors and get a chance to pick between grape, peppermint, bubble gum, etc.
  • Your child’s surgeon will come and speak to you and your child one final time.


Depending on age, your child will have the option of being wheeled back to surgery or walk. Your child’s first stop will be in Bunny Lane. In this room, your child will be able to pick out a toy or game to take home after surgery. Once in the operating room, the team will double check your child’s vital signs and medical chart, and you will have a chance to kiss and hug your child. Then you will go to the surgery waiting area, and your child’s surgery will begin.

You will be updated throughout your child’s surgery, so it is best to stay nearby. Operating room staff can text or call your cell phone if needed, just give them the necessary information.

After Surgery

When your child’s surgery is complete, your child will be taken to the recovery room, also called the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). There, nurses, anesthesiologists and other team members will closely monitor your child. You will be brought to the recovery room to spend time with your child after surgery. Anesthesia can have varying effects, and it is common for your child to act abnormally. If you have any concerns, talk to a member of the PACU team. How long your child stays in the PACU depends on a large number of factors. Depending on your child’s care plan, you may either help them get dressed to go home or go to your child’s hospital room.

If your child is going home the same day, you will receive a note for school, information about follow-up and a prescription for pain medication. You can get your prescription filled at the Le Bonheur pharmacy, or choose another pharmacy close to home

If your child stays overnight, you will be able to stay with your child. For more information on staying overnight, click here.

Your Experience

Our hope is that your child’s stay with us exceeds your expectations. However, if you have questions or concerns, please speak with your child’s nurse first. If there is a problem that is not being resolved, then you may ask to speak with the nursing leader on your floor or unit, or the Le Bonheur patient advocate. Our patient advocate serves as a liaison between the hospital staff and patients and families, and can assist in problem resolution. The patient advocate can be reached at 901-287-6350.