Preoperative Visit with Your Child's Surgeon

If your child needs unplanned surgery

If your child needs emergency surgery, there is limited time to prepare yourself and your child. The news can be a total surprise. The urgent nature of the procedure can be frightening. The most important thing to do is to stay calm. Reassure your child and ask as many questions as needed to understand the situation.

Preparing for the preoperative visit

For elective or required surgery, it's important to prepare for meeting with your child's surgeon. There are things you should bring with you to make sure the surgeon has all the information they need. Have available:

  • Digital copies or films of any X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans that were done

  • Results of lab tests

  • Complete medical history record (digital file can usually be sent by your child's healthcare provider in advance)

  • Family history (both sides of the family) of problems with anesthesia

  • Family history of bleeding problems

  • Dental records

  • Information about the home environment (such as does anyone smoke)

  • List of all prescription and over-the-counter medicines your child is taking (or has recently taken), or the medicines themselves. Make sure to include how much you give and how often (such as daily or twice a day)

  • List of all allergies your child has (especially latex allergy)

  • Possibility of pregnancy

  • List of any questions you have for the surgeon

  • List of past providers who cared for your child

What to expect at the preoperative visit

The surgeon will review any tests already done, your child's medical history, and the medicines your child is taking. Your child will have a complete physical exam to assess their current health status. If your child needs more tests, the surgeon will discuss them with you at this visit.

Now is the time to ask questions. If your child is a teen, ask what questions they have for the surgeon. Below is a list of common questions to ask:

  • Why does my child need this surgery?

  • Is there any alternative to having surgery?

  • What are the expected results?

  • What are the risks and possible complications?

  • Do you do this surgery often?

  • What is your success rate, and how often do your patients have any problems?

  • Are you board-certified? By which board?

  • Is the surgical facility accredited and properly staffed?

  • How long will the surgery take?

  • What type of anesthesia is needed?

  • How long will my child have to stay in the hospital? Can I stay with my child?

  • Will my child have any pain? If so, what kind of medicine will they get for it?

  • Will my child need a blood transfusion? If yes, can a compatible family member donate the blood?

  • Will my child need antibiotics or other medicines after surgery?

  • What care will be needed after the surgery?

  • What will the incision look like? Will I need to change dressings? Will there be scarring? Will there be stitches to remove?

  • When can my child resume normal activities?

Next steps

After your questions have been answered, your child's surgery can be scheduled. The date and time of surgery will depend on:

  • The urgency of the surgery

  • Your child's condition

  • The surgeon's and hospital's availability

The surgeon's office and the hospital admitting office will assist in getting preapproval from your health insurance company before the surgery.

If you have more questions before your child's scheduled surgery, call the surgeon. Your confidence in knowing what will happen before, during, and after surgery will help you in preparing your child.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2024
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