Preparing Your Child - FAQ's

Can we visit the Ambulatory Surgery Center before the day of surgery?

Yes. We have a program to introduce children and their families to the Surgery Center. These preoperative visits are extremely useful in preparing a child for the stresses of the "big day." We strongly encourage you to utilize this service. Please see the Preoperative Tour section.

What should I do if my child develops a cold before the surgery?

We prefer to do elective surgery when the child is optimized medically. In some cases it may be better to delay the surgery until the child is perfectly well. Please call your surgeon as soon as you notice symptoms of a cold or any other medical problems. You are welcome to call us for advice at 631.444.9400. Please notify the Surgical Center immediately if your; surgery has been rescheduled. Do not hesitate to take your child to his/her pediatrician. Your child will also be re-evaluated by an anesthesiologist on the day of the surgery.

What should I bring for my child?

Please bring a favorite little toy or animal to comfort your child. If he or she has a little blanket or pillow at home please bring it to the Surgery Center. (It doesn't matter what it looks like.) Please bring ALL MEDICATIONS that your child takes at home. We may need them. Please bring a drinking bottle or "sippy" cup that your child likes. We have feeding bottles at the Center, but often children prefer their own, particularly after surgery. If they prefer a special juice that we may not have at the Center, please feel free to bring some along. Please do not bring other children to the Center.

Can my child's sibling come to the Surgery Center?

We request that only the parents come to the Center. Space is limited. There will be other recovering patients close by and traffic in the recovery area needs to be minimized for medical reasons. Siblings will NOT be permitted near other recovering patients. Please make other arrangements for your other children.

Why must my child refrain from eating or drinking before surgery?

There is a risk that any person can aspirate stomach contents while under anesthesia. This risk is very rare but is very severe. We adhere to the recommendations of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Please note that increasing the time of fasting does not decrease the risks at all. In fact, the child who has fasted excessively may be at a higher risk for developing a problem. Fasting before surgery has nothing to do with the nausea and vomiting that some patients experience after surgery.

How long should my child refrain from eating or drinking?

This depends on your child's age. Liquids and solid food have different rules. Concerning liquids, all children are strongly encouraged to drink clear liquids until three (3) hours before the surgery. Please note that clear liquids mean any fluid that you can see through. These include water, apple juice, sprite, ginger ale, coke, Gatorade, clear Jell-0.

Milk and formula are prohibited. These are NOT clear liquids. NO MILK ALLOWED.

The rules for solid foods are complicated. To simplify things we ask that no solid food be given after midnight. (Occasionally, different instructions may be given.) Withhold solid food and milk after midnight, but encourage clear liquids up to three hours before the surgery.

Breastfed children can be breastfed until four hours before the surgery. These children can still have clear liquids until three hours before the surgery.

We appeal to you to minimize the fasting period. Unnecessary long hours of fasting are not healthy for a child undergoing anesthesia. Please try to give the clear liquid as close to the three hours before surgery as possible. This may even require waking yourself and the child up during the night. BUT, no solid foods or milk or formula after midnight.

(If your child has any condition that is associated with slow emptying of the stomach we will lengthen the fasting times. Examples of these are diabetes, obesity, esophageal problems and reflux.)

When will my child be permitted to eat or drink again?

Generally, your child can eat or drink very soon after the surgery. Some special situations may be handled differently. Most children will drink and possibly eat something light before leaving. It is not required that patients drink before leaving the Center. (Many children prefer their own "sippy" cup or bottle. Please feel free to bring their own for use in the recovery room.)

Will my child receive some pre-medication before the surgery?

There are many ways to help you and your child get through the anxiety of the surgery. We do not have any rules. Every child and family will be assessed and together the best plan will be chosen. That plan may or may not include a sedative medication to be given preoperatively.

Will there be pain or needle sticks?

Again, each child will be treated on an individual basis. Most children choose to go to sleep using a breathing mask to avoid "pokes and sticks." In these cases, only after the child is asleep will we place the intravenous. Usually, children at or around 9 years old will choose the intravenous method to go to sleep rather than to breathe in the mask, which we feel is a better choice for this age group. It is not unusual for a younger child who has been with us a few times to choose an intravenous instead of the mask. On rare occasions and for specific medical reasons, it may be strong indications to use an intravenous and not the mask. You will have ample time to discuss the best options for your child.

May I stay with my child when he or she goes to sleep?

There are many ways to minimize the stress of separation and surgery. A parent accompanying his/her child into the operating rooms is only one of the possible choices we have to minimize the child's stress. This issue has been closely studied and the conclusion of extensive research is that every patient needs to be individualized. You will have ample time to discuss this with your anesthesiologist and together the most appropriate plan for your child will be formulated. There are cases where parents in the operating room do help the child. There are other cases where the parent is not helpful and may even distract from the child's safe care. We will discuss your child and then together decide what would work in his or her best interest.

May I go into the operating room with my child?

There will be circumstances where it is appropriate for a parent to come into the operating room. Studies and experience show that this decision needs to be individualized and discussed between the parent and the anesthesiologist. There are many situations where other choices are better and possibly even safer. Please do not hesitate to discuss your options.

Where will my child go after the surgery?

After surgery, most children will go to the children's area of the recovery room. Occasionally, if the child is wide-awake, he or she will go directly to a second stage recovery area. We will choose the appropriate safe location to recover your child and reunite you with your child as soon as possible.

When will I see my child after the surgery?

You and your child will be reunited as soon as possible. In some cases, you may be reunited before your child opens his or her eyes. Most of the time, you will be with your child within the first ten minutes of his or her arrival in the recovery room. Occasionally, if it is medically necessary, we will have you wait a little longer. Please feel reassured that we respect you and your child's need to be together as soon as possible.

Might my child vomit after surgery?

Yes, it is possible that your child might vomit after surgery. If your child is in the small group that is nauseous after the surgery, then we will attend to him or her in the recovery room. Rarely, the child could be fine at the Surgery Center and then feel nauseous on the way home or even at home. This is uncommon and usually does not indicate a serious problem. If vomiting does occur, please call your surgeon or the Surgery Center for advice and support.

Will my child be given medication to take home?

You will be given prescriptions for all the necessary medication your child will need at home. If you wish, we can call the prescriptions in to your pharmacy so that they will be waiting for you on your way home. (Some surgeons may give you a prescription before the day of surgery so that you can have it filled prior to your child's surgery. We encourage this process.)

What should I do if my child has a medical problem at home?

If this seems urgent call 911 or go to the nearest ER. Always contact your surgeon first. The surgeon will either solve your problem or direct you to the appropriate source for help. If you have any serious concern and are having trouble getting the appropriate support, go directly to the closest emergency room.

What if I have additional questions?

We encourage you to ask questions and will make every effort to address your concerns. You can contact us by phone at 631.444.9400. We can also answer your questions by email. Please refer to the Contact Us section.