What should I bring to the first office visit?
It is important that your child is present for the first office visit. If you have any questions, please give us a call. Typically, surgery will be performed at a later date.
If your child had imaging studies in the past (for example, ultrasound, X-rays, or CT scans), please bring copies of these studies on a CD to your appointment. The report may be helpful, but our surgeons need to review the actual images.
How does a children's hospital differ from a general hospital?
A children's hospital is planned around the special needs of children and their families. All of the doctors have special training in pediatrics, whether they're pediatric surgeons or pediatric anesthesiologists. All of the nurses are experienced in caring for children. This concentration allows us to develop specific expertise in pediatric problems, and to develop special programs for children (such as minimal access surgery, pediatric trauma care, etc.).
What do I need to know about anesthesia for children?
Our patients are cared for by pediatric anesthesiologists. Like the other pediatric specialists, they have done additional training to care for children. While we can't make parents stop worrying altogether, we can reassure you that general anesthesia given to even premature babies by a qualified anesthesiologist is very safe.
The CHaD PainFree Program, uses both pharmacologic (drugs) and distracting techniques to minimize or eliminate distress during painful procedures.
Who will perform the surgery?
Every procedure performed in the operating room at CHaD is conducted from start to finish by one of the fully qualified staff surgeons. "Conducting" an operation is a bit like conducting an orchestra: you need a number of people to get the job done, but the conductor (the surgeon) determines exactly what gets done, and by whom, and when. So we are often assisted by residents, and (in fact) could not physically do many of the more complex procedures without their help.
What should I tell my child about the procedure?
How you approach the topic really depends on the age of the child:
- For infants, it's most important that the parents communicate with each other.
- Toddlers are most disturbed by separation. We try to address that fear by having parents stay in the operating room until the child is asleep, and by bringing them to the recovery room while the child is waking up. Toddlers are also afraid of needles, so we try not to use any until the child is anesthetized. Lastly, they may worry that surgery is a punishment, so it's important for parents to reassure them.
- School-age children may have fears of anesthesia, experiencing pain, or death. They may benefit from discussion of the procedure or a pre-op visit to the surgical area, and from reassurance. We offer "Sneak-A-Peek tours" to provide children and families an opportunity to see areas such the operating rooms (ORs) and the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) before they come in for an actual surgery or procedure. We also offer a DVD that is age-specific to your child that provides this same information. You will be offered this DVD at your visit, or a copy can be mailed to your home if you prefer.
- Adolescents need the support of their parents just as much as younger children, but they also need to be empowered. They should participate in discussions with their doctors, and be given a voice when decisions are being made.
We have age-appropriate reference information, books, and suggestions for discussing upcoming procedures with your child. You will be given a copy of this information at the office visit. This information can also be mailed to your home if you prefer.
Can I accompany my child into surgery?
For most day surgeries, if your child is of an age where separation will cause distress, you may be offered the option of accompanying your child into the operating room and staying until he or she is asleep. You will then be brought back to the waiting room.
Once the operation is completed and once your child is awake you will be brought into the recovery area. During this time the surgeon will discuss the operation with you and your family in a private room. You need to let the staff know how to contact you during the operation. You will usually be given a restaurant-style pager that lights up.
For some surgeries, often emergencies, it's not as safe to have parents in the OR. Your surgeon and your anesthesiologist will explain those special circumstances if they apply to you.
Where can I get more information?
- The American Pediatric Surgical Association has excellent general educational information for parents and other caregivers who are coping with a child's illness, injury, or pending surgical procedure.