Surgery at CHW Packet 1107 1018 1191 1061 (4050)

Key points below

Children’s Wisconsin Hospital (Packet 4050)

Your child will be having surgery at Children’s Wisconsin. Here is some information to help you get ready.

Before surgery

Meeting with your surgeon or doctor

Preparing for surgery

Call before surgery

A nurse will call you 1 to 3 days before your child’s surgery. The nurse will review your child’s health history, final instructions and any possible changes.  It is very important to follow these instructions:

If you have not heard from a nurse by the day before surgery, please call the Pre-op Clinic at 414-266-2762.  Leave a message with your child’s name, date of surgery, and your phone number.  A nurse will return your call as soon as possible.

When to stop eating and drinking before surgery (NPO instructions)
It is very important that you follow these instructions. If your child eats or drinks after the time you are given, the food or drink could get into their lungs when they are given anesthesia. This is called aspiration and could be very dangerous. Your child’s procedure may be cancelled if these instructions are not followed.

Bath before surgery

Hospital stay

The staff that will take care of your child

Many staff members with different roles will care for your child.  The Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin staff work together to care for children.  There are many specialists from the Medical College who may care for your child. They are specially trained in the care of children needing surgery.  These include doctors, called anesthesiologists, who give medicine to make your child sleep during the procedure. You will meet them before the procedure. Staff, students and volunteers will be wearing a hospital ID badge. Feel free to ask people their names and roles if needed.

Visiting the Post-anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) 
After surgery, your child will go to a recovery room (PACU).  Your child will stay there until the anesthesia starts to wear off and your child is comfortable.  Most families will meet their child in the PACU after surgery.  Staff will let you know when you can join your child.

Important things to know: 

Your child’s comfort

 We will make every effort to keep your child comfortable during their visit to Children’s Hospital. This pledge is called the “Comfort Zone”. We will help your child cope with discomfort by using relaxation techniques, sedatives and pain medicine. We will give you information on pain management choices. We encourage you to talk with your doctor or nurse about your child’s comfort.


Our main focus is on your hospitalized child. Our goal is to give the best and safest care for your child. To do this, we have visiting guidelines. There may be times when we have to limit the number of visitors. To learn more, please talk with staff. 

Going home

 Before you leave the hospital, you will learn how to care for your child at home.  This includes:

You will get copies of all teaching sheets and instructions. There will be phone numbers on your paperwork in case you have questions after you get home.

Nothing by mouth or tube (NPO)

Your procedure is scheduled for ____________  (date)  ____________  (time)
Your child’s instructions for getting liquids and food are based on when they will get to the hospital which is: _____________ (time)              
No milk, formula or breast milk with additives after _____________ (time) 
No breast milk after _____________ (time)   
No clear liquids after _____________ (time)                                        
The times may need to be changed if unexpected schedule changes are needed.
**Please fill in the blanks after times are provided to you by the Pre-op Call Nurse.

Type of liquid or food allowed and Definition  

These instructions are based on the following NPO guidelines.
Type of Feeding and Number of hours to stop liquids and meals before scheduled arrival to the hospital 

Special Information

Preparing Your Child for Surgery

Children’s Hospital

Planning for your child's procedure or surgery can be stressful. Being well prepared can help you and your child feel less nervous about surgery. One way to help you learn what will happen is to write down questions ahead of time. Having your own questions answered will help you as you start to talk to your child.

It is important to help your child understand why surgery is needed. Children cope better if they know what’s going to happen and why.

When preparing your child, information should be given:

Use the following tips to help your child: 

Infants (0 to 12 months old)
Familiar objects and people are important to infants.
Bring a favorite blanket, toy or pacifier.
Bring your infants bottle or cup to use after the procedure.

Toddlers (1 to 3 years old)

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old)

School-Age Children (5 to 12 years old)

Teens (12 to 18 years old)

What to tell other children in the family

Your other children may have questions. They may be worried and upset. How to help:

The Day of Surgery

Stay relaxed
Children notice how their parents react to a new situation. It is normal for you to be anxious about surgery, but it is important to not let your child see how you are feeling. If they see you are worried, they will be too. Children are surprisingly able to interpret body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. Nothing calms a child more than a confident parent.

Offer distractions
Make a plan to distract your child until it’s time to get ready for the procedure. If possible, pack a bag of new toys to keep them occupied. Keep the conversation upbeat and light; don’t let them pick up on your anxiety.

Work with the surgery team
The anesthesiologist and surgery team have your child’s best interest in mind. Be open and honest with them so they can make the best decisions for your child. Remember that the anesthesiologist has experience with preparing children for surgery, so take your cues from him or her to keep your child calm.

Child Life Specialists
Child Life Specialists have studied child development and how children react to health care settings. They help make the hospital less stressful for patients and families. They can help ease the fear and worry your child and their siblings may have. They can also help your child understand and cope with being in the hospital.
If you would like to meet with a member of the child life team during your stay, please ask your nurse to have them paged.

Wound Infection after Surgery

What are surgical site infections or SSIs?

A Surgical Site Infection (SSI) is an infection of a wound from surgery.  Most infections are caused by germs (bacteria) found on and in the body. Germs are everywhere. They can be found on the skin, in the air, and on surfaces.  Fortunately, only 2 out of 100 patients who have surgery, get a surgery wound infection. 
What are the symptoms?
Pain or tenderness. 
Redness around the wound or a red streak coming from it.
Swelling or hardness around the wound.  
Green, yellow or bad-smelling fluid (pus, drainage) from the wound.
Fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher.
A tired feeling that doesn’t go away.
Symptoms can come at any time- hours to even weeks after surgery.  Call your child’s healthcare provider if you think there is an infection.

Who has a greater chance of getting an infection?

Patients who:

How are the infections treated?

Treatment depends on where the wound is and what type of germ is causing the infection.  A small amount of wound drainage may be sent to the lab to see what germs are in the wound.  Most infections are treated with antibiotics.

What can you do to help prevent an infection?

What is done in the hospital to prevent SSIs?  

Healthcare providers should wash their hands with soap or an alcohol-based cleaner before and after touching your child.  If you do not see them wash their hands, please ask them to do so.

Before surgery: 

During surgery: 


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