How To Prepare Your Child for Surgery

Children are curious by nature and may have a great deal of questions about their upcoming surgery.  Below is a list of commonly asked questions about surgery along with child-friendly answers to help your child become more comfortable with what to expect.


What is the operating room?

The operating room, sometimes called the OR, is where you go if you need an operation.  Having an operation is also called having surgery.

What is an operation?

When someone has an operation, a doctor called a surgeon works on or inside the body to fix something.

Who will I meet at the hospital?

When you arrive at the hospital, someone at the reception desk will take your name, address, phone number and your parents' names.

You will meet a nurse, who will ask you and your parents all about your health--what operation you are having, how you feel, and whether you are allergic to anything.  The nurse will check your pulse, temperature, and make sure you are ready for surgery.

Before the surgery, you will meet the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist.  This person is trained to help you sleep during your surgery so you won't feel anything.  They will also help you wake up after surgery.

You'll also see your surgeon right before you fall asleep. The surgeon is the doctor who will perform your surgery.

Why do all those people wear masks?

Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff wear caps over their hair and masks over their mouths and noses to keep the OR free of germs.  They even wear booties over their shoes.

What happens the day of surgery?

You won't be able to eat breakfast the day of your surgery.  That's because food--or even water--can upset your stomach when you are given anesthesia.  You'll be told ahead of time what you can and cannot eat or drink.

You'll be taken to the OR and given anesthesia to make sure that you are asleep for the surgery.  That way the surgeon will be able to fix your body without it hurting.

After the surgery, you'll be moved to a recovery room.  This is the room where you will wake up.  Your parents will be able to join you in the recovery room when you wake up.

A nurse will be there to see how you're doing as you wake up.  Once you're fully awake, you will either be moved to a hospital room if you're spending the night or be allowed to go home.

Where will my family be?

Your family will be with you in the exam room before your surgery.  Two adults can walk with you as you go to the OR and give you a kiss and hug before you go inside.  While you are in the OR, your family will wait in the waiting room.  Once you are awake, your two adults can join you in the recovery room until you're ready to go home or to your room for the night.


Click here to view our surgery preparation book you can share with your child.

For a list of books to help prepare children for surgery, click here.

Is your child having surgery at Patewood Outpatient Center?  Click here for a book written just for you.