What to expect on the day of surgery

Video: Before surgery education

Stop at the welcome desk for a visitor badge and they will tell you to go to the 3rd or 4th floor to be checked in.

Parents or guardians: Please make sure that you eat something and take care of yourself so you can be there for your child throughout the day.

Before surgery (pre-op)

To get you and your child ready for surgery we need to:

  • Put a name band on your child
  • Get a height and weight
  • Get vital signs and do a physical assessment (Normally IVs are not started in the pre-procedure area)
  • Apply a cleansing wipe to the surgical area
  • Ask questions that are important for your child’s safety and review and have a parent or guardian sign the consent form
  • The anesthesiologist and surgeon will come in to answer any questions you may have
  • Just before going into the operating room, your child may be given an oral liquid medicine to help them relax

For safety reasons and due to limitations on space, only two parents are allowed back in the pre-op areas.

We will keep you up to date regarding any delays that may occur.

During surgery

Surgical operating room

Though an operating room can look intimidating, the highly skilled and compassionate people who work at Children's create a caring, trusting environment for children and families.

While we are preparing your child for surgery and giving anesthesia, he or she can hold a teddy bear or another comforting item. Even when you're out of the room, you can feel good knowing that our staff members will reassure your child by talking and even singing as he or she falls asleep. During the operation we will update you regularly and encourage you to ask questions about the procedure.

Many people will work together to take care of your child and make sure the operation runs smoothly.

Our surgical services team includes:

  • Circulating nurses and anesthesiologists. As a team, nurses and anesthesiologists will meet with your family and answer your questions. Circulating nurses help the anesthesiologist put your child to sleep and position and pad your child to make him or her comfortable during long operations. Most importantly, circulating nurses document the surgical procedure, including medications your child receives, and sends specimens to the lab. The nurse will also keep you informed about what is going on.
  • Surgical technicians. Surgical technicians are responsible for the sterile set-up of instruments and equipment needed for each operation and for handing instruments to the surgeon during the operation.
  • Pediatric surgeons. Our pediatric surgeons specialize in different areas of surgery, including heart, craniofacial, dental, ENT (ear, nose, and throat), eye, general, neurosurgery and neurology, orthopedic, plastic and reconstructive, organ transplant, and urology. They perform a wide variety of operations, ranging from straightforward to very complex.
  • Pediatric anesthesiologists. Pediatric anesthesiologists are experts in safely putting and keeping children to sleep. They monitor your child throughout the operation and provide medication to keep your child's vital signs normal and to control pain.
  • Anesthesia technicians. Anesthesia technicians check and set-up the equipment and restock anesthesia supplies.
  • Pediatric pharmacists. In every surgery area we have a pharmacy that is staffed at least 10 hours a day by a pediatric pharmacist. Being closer to the patient decreases the time it takes to give your child medications. In addition, medication orders can be clarified more quickly, medications can be anticipated and mixed with less waste, and pain medications can be started during the operation instead of after children are awake.

While you are here, you can buy food at multiple locations in the hospital. Available list of dining services and other amenities- Milwaukee >>>

Learn more about the family waiting area  |  En Espanol

After surgery -- recovery room/post anesthesia care unit (PACU)

  • After surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room where they will wake up from anesthesia (For patients going to the ICU post op, you will go directly to your inpatient room).
  • Each child is different, so how long it takes to wake up will vary.
  • The best thing after surgery is to get at least 30 minutes of rest. The time gives your child’s body time to process the medicines they got. This helps with waking them up.
  • Once your child is awake, you will be reunited. Our goal is to have you be with your child as soon as possible.

Learn more about our PACU- recovery room >>>

After surgery post-op

When ready, your child will be moved to the post-op area.

  • Your child will still be monitored closely to make sure that they are safe and comfortable.
  • Your child will be discharged when all discharge criteria are met.
  • Your nurse will review discharge instructions with you before you leave.
  • Please ask questions. We want you to be ready to take care of your child at home.
  • If you are going home the same day of surgery, only two adults are allowed back in the post-op area.
  • If you are staying overnight, the general hospital visiting guidelines apply.

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.

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