When your child needs orthopedic surgery (1412)

Key points below

Your child is having bone or joint surgery. A doctor called an orthopedic surgeon will perform the surgery. This sheet will help you and your child get ready and know what to expect.

How is the surgery done?

There are two types of orthopedic surgery. Your surgeon will talk with you about which surgery your child will have.

Open surgery: This is done through one incision (cut), This is large enough for the surgeon to have a direct view of the area to be operated on.

Arthroscopic surgery: This is done through a few small incisions. A tube with a tiny camera and a light, called an arthroscope, is used. This helps the surgeon to have a clear view of the area that
needs surgery. The surgery is done through the other small incisions.

Helping your child prepare for surgery

Having surgery can be scary for children to think about. You can help your child by preparing them in advance. How you do this will depend on your child’s needs. Child Life Specialist at Children’s
Wisconsin can help with this.

Before the surgery

Most likely, someone will need to stay home with your child following surgery. Parents may need to plan on taking time off for surgery. We suggest you work with your employer to plan time off from
work. Your child’s surgery qualifies for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Your surgeon and their team can complete the needed forms and submit to your employer.

You will be given instructions to help your child prepare for surgery. Carefully follow the instructions your child’s surgeon will be give you. Below are some common instructions for most surgeries.

The day of surgery

During the surgery

After surgery in the hospital

After surgery at home

If your child has a cast or splint, call if your doctor if:

This sheet was created to help you care for your child or family member. It does not take the place of medical care. Talk with your healthcare provider for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.

For other health and wellness information, check out this resource:




Call 414-604-7500 if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has:

  • A fever of 102 or higher.
  • A hard time pooping
  • Pain, redness, or swelling at the incision site.
  • Drainage from an incision that gets worse or changes color.
  • Bleeding from the incision.
  • Special health care needs that were not covered by this form.

Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.