What is preoperative care?

Preoperative Care

What care might you need before surgery?

Before surgery, you may have an exam or tests. Tests may include blood tests, urine tests, X-rays, or an electrocardiogram. If you know before surgery that you might need a blood transfusion during your surgery, you may donate your own blood several weeks before surgery.

What will your surgeon want to know before surgery?

Your surgeon will want to know about any concerns you have before the surgery. Your surgeon will explain why surgery is needed, what it will involve, what its risks and expected outcomes are, and how long it will take to recover.

Tell your surgeon about any surgery you've had. Include your recovery period and any problems.

Describe any health problems you have, such as:

  • Diabetes.
  • Heart problems.
  • Lung problems.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Asthma.
  • Any allergies to foods, substances, anesthetics, or medicines.
  • Any bleeding problems or use of a blood thinner.
  • A recent cold, flu, or fever.
  • Metal implants or fragments in your body.

Tell your doctor about any tobacco, alcohol, drugs, medicines, vitamins, and supplements you use. These may affect your reaction to anesthesia or pain medicines.

Tell your surgeon if you are or might be pregnant.

You may also be asked to fill out a form with questions about your past and current health.

What happens when you are ready to go home after surgery?

Be sure you have someone drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive. You will get instructions about recovering from your surgery. This is called a discharge plan. It will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

Before Your Surgery: How to Prepare

Preparing on the day of your child's surgery

Here are some tips about what to do at home before you leave for your child's surgery.

  • If the doctor said that your child should take any medicines on the day of surgery, help your child follow the doctor's instructions.

    Your child may need to take them with only a sip of water.

  • Make sure your child follows the doctor's instructions about when to stop eating and drinking.

    Sometimes children eat or drink something by mistake. If this happens, the surgery may have to be scheduled for another time.

  • Follow the doctor's instructions about when your child will bathe or shower before surgery.
  • Make sure your child doesn't use lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • If your child has contact lenses, jewelry, or piercings, make sure they are removed.
  • Get your child's favorite toy, blanket, or pacifier ready to take along.
  • Have your picture ID ready to take with you.
  • Know when to call your doctor.

    Call if:

    • Your child becomes ill before surgery.
    • Your child eats or drinks something they shouldn't.
    • You need to reschedule.
    • You have changed your mind about the surgery.

Saul Has Surgery

Saul and his parents

Hi! I'm Saul. Not long ago, I had surgery. I didn't really know what having surgery was going to be like. I was a little nervous. But everything was okay! Here's how it went.

Saul in the car, holding a stuffed dragon

I learned that kids have surgery for all kinds of things. My doctors said that surgery was the best way to help me.

On the morning of my surgery, my parents took me to the hospital. I got to bring my favorite toy with me. I picked Doug the Dragon.

I had to skip breakfast that day. It's not good to eat right before surgery. But my mom told me that I could have something to eat after it was over.

Saul in hospital bed, with his parents and nurse standing next to it

At the hospital we met a nurse.

He said, "Saul, my name is Danny. I'm going to help take care of you while you're here."

Danny took my parents and me to a getting-ready room. He helped me put on a hospital shirt and gave me a wristband with my name on it. Then he put some stickers on my chest that had little wires clipped to them. And he put a red light on my pointer finger. Danny told me that those things help the doctors check on my heart and my breathing during the surgery.

Saul and his parents meet the surgery doctor and the sleepy doctor

Then two doctors came in to say hi. They told me they each had a special job. One doctor was the surgery doctor. She was in charge of doing my surgery.

The other doctor was the sleepy doctor. I heard some people call her the "anesthesiologist." She was in charge of making sure I stayed asleep the whole time.

"That way, you won't feel a thing!" said the sleepy doctor.

Saul's parents hold his stuffed dragon while Danny the nurse wheels Saul into the surgery room

Then it was time to go to the surgery room. I got to put on a funny hat. It made me laugh when I saw myself in the mirror. It looked like a mushroom on my head!

I got to ride in a bed with wheels on it. Nurse Danny pushed it. And my mom and dad got to walk with us part of the way to the surgery room.

Danny said, "This is as far as your mom and dad can come, Saul. But don't worry. I will stay with you the whole time."

So Mom and Dad gave me a kiss and said they'd be there when I woke up.

Saul in the surgery room, with the doctors and nurse all wearing masks

Danny and I went into the surgery room. There were big TV screens and bright lights. The surgery doctor and sleepy doctor were waiting for me. They had masks on. Danny had his mask on too.

"These masks and hats help make sure the surgery room stays very, very clean," said Danny.

"You get a mask too," said the sleepy doctor. "Yours has special air in it that makes you sleepy. And you can choose what flavor the air is!"

Chocolate cake air comes out of the mask that the sleepy doc is putting on Saul

There were lots of flavor choices. I picked my favorite sweet treat, chocolate cake!

The sleepy doctor put a plastic mask up to my face and said, "Okay Saul. Now take some big, deep, dragon breaths."

That was easy, because cake-flavored air is yummy.

Then I must have fallen asleep, because that's the last thing I remember.

Saul looking sleepy with a tube in his hand, while his parents and nurse stand next to his bed

When I woke up, I was in a different room. It was kind of noisy in there, and I felt a little weird. Waking up from surgery isn't like waking up in the morning.

My parents were there. So was Doug the Dragon. There was a little tube going into the top of my hand. The tube didn't hurt. But it looked kind of funny.

I was still sleepy, and I felt a little sore. But Nurse Danny put some medicine into the tube in my hand. That helped me feel better fast.

Saul and his parents leave the hospital, waving goodbye to the sleepy doc

After I woke up all the way, Danny gave me an ice pop and then some crackers to make sure my tummy was feeling okay. Then he took the tube out of my hand and said, "Okay, Saul. Let's get you ready to go home."

Danny told me that some kids stay at the hospital after surgery. But my surgery wasn't the stay-at-the-hospital kind.

So my parents took me home the same day. And since I missed breakfast, my dad said he would make pancakes for dinner!

Now that you know how surgery went for Saul, can you think of any questions you still have about your surgery? What special thing will you bring to the hospital?

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