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Welcome to Surgery 

Welcome to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

We try to schedule your arrival time so the wait before your child’s surgery is as short as possible. Our goal is to bring you into the pre-op room within 30 minutes after your arrival time. Your arrival time allows at least 2-3 hours for us to make sure your child is ready and safe for their procedure. Sometimes preparing a child for surgery may take longer than we expected. Sometimes there are delays in the Operating Room (OR) creating longer wait times. If a delay occurs, we will do our best to keep you updated about wait times. Our goal is to keep every child safe. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. 

Below are a few frequently asked questions from families: 

What should I do while my child is in the OR? 

As soon as your child goes into surgery, it is very important to check in at the desk in Surgery Waiting. We encourage one parent to wait in this area if the procedure is scheduled for less than 60 minutes or if your child is having multiple short procedures. This is so you can speak with your child’s doctor when the procedure is done. We can sign you up for text messaging when you check in. You will receive updates throughout your child’s procedure to keep you informed. Please make sure your phone is turned on and charged. The Surgery Waiting area is also where nurses and doctors will share updates with you about your child’s procedure. Surgery Waiting has coffee, vending machines, computers, televisions, restrooms, a phone charger and lockers. 

What happens when the surgery is over? 

Once your child’s surgery is over, the surgeon will either speak with you in Surgery Waiting, over the phone, in a private consult room or possibly in the Peri-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). The anesthesiology team will wake your child and bring them back to recover in the PACU. It may take 30 minutes or more after the procedure before your child is taken to the PACU. 

When can I visit my child in the PACU? 

We will reunite you as soon as possible after your child is taken to the PACU. For safety reasons, only two adults are allowed in the PACU. It is a critical time as your child recovers from anesthesia and surgery. If you easily become faint or queasy, choose a different family member to be with your child in the PACU.

How will my child look when I visit the PACU? 

When you first see your child, they may be very sleepy or may already be awake. Some children are alert and smiling; some are upset and crying. Each child wakes in their own way after anesthesia. All these reactions are normal. 

Your child may have an oxygen mask on or near the face, have an IV, and be connected to a monitor that will measure heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. Your child’s face may appear puffy or swollen. 

What can I do for my child when I visit? 

If your child is sleeping, please do not touch or try to awaken them. Children are calmer if they can sleep and wake up naturally after anesthesia. If your child is fussy, holding them may be comforting. This fussy state may last the entire time you are in the PACU. Your child may have some pain after surgery. The PACU nurse will give your child pain medicine as needed. 

What happens after my child is ready to leave the PACU?

If your child is going home the same day, your child will be ready for discharge once they are safe after anesthesia. Each child’s recovery time can vary. On average, recovery can take 1-2 hours. Your nurse will review instructions on how to care for your child at home and answer any questions you may have. 

The nurse will also review any medicine(s) that your healthcare team wants your child to take at home. If you signed up for Meds to Beds prescription delivery service, someone from pharmacy will contact you to coordinate delivery. In addition, the CHOP retail pharmacy is on the first floor of the Main Hospital. 

If your child is spending the night in the hospital, your child will go to the room when they are ready, and the room is available. You may be placed in a shared space with another patient and family. Please be assured that we carefully consider patient placement to maintain safe and effective care. 

Your nurse will review the visitation policy before you go to your room. We are here to support you and your family. 

Please let us know if you have concerns or questions.

Reviewed January 2024 by Leslie Obermeier, PPCNP-BC, NEA-BC

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