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Procedures and Surgical Services

A bit of preparation goes a long way towards making the day of your child’s surgery or procedure go smoothly.
Before your visit

Your child's surgery or procedure date

The surgeon or proceduralist will contact the hospital to arrange the surgery or procedure. You will receive a patient notification email or letter that you have been placed on the waitlist and then a call from the booking office to set a date. Also, a nurse will call you before your surgery or procedure date to help prepare you and your child.

You will receive a call from Procedures and Surgical Services one working day (Monday – Friday) before the procedure. They will give you your fasting and arrival times for the day of the surgery or procedure.

Before the surgery or procedure

Watch the "Welcome to Procedures" video to help prepare for your visit.

Be sure to read the "Your Child's Surgery or Procedure" booklet to help you prepare for your visit.

Read about:

Why shouldn't your child eat or drink before their anesthetic?

When your child receives an anesthetic it is very important that their stomach is empty so that they are safe. This is so that they don't vomit and choke when the anesthetic is starting. If there is food in their stomach before the anesthetic, the food could make its way into your child's lungs while they are under anesthetic, and your child could get pneumonia.

This is why we need your child's stomach to be as empty as possible before their anesthetic. We understand that a hungry child can be upset and frustrated, and we know that it is really hard for a parent to let their child be hungry. However, we need your help to ensure that your child is as safe as possible when they get the anesthetic.

As a reminder, here are the guidelines we need you to follow before your child's anesthetic:

  • Your child may eat or drink anything they want until midnight the night before their procedure.
  • If your child drinks formula or has tube feeds these must stop 6 hours before your arrival at BC Children's Hospital.
  • If your child drinks breast milk they may have plain breast milk until 4 hours before your arrival at BC Children's Hospital.
  • Your child should continue to have clear fluids, which are fluids you can see clearly through (for example water or clear apple juice) until 1 hour before your arrival. After that, nothing to eat or drink please!

If you have any questions or concerns about these instructions, please call our Anesthetic Care Unit at 604-875-2191.

We look forward to seeing you soon, and thank you for your help with this very important safety matter!

Find out as much as you can about the surgery or procedure. If you know what to expect, you will be able to better help your child.

  • Be honest with your child about what will happen. Children can tell when you are not being truthful.
  • Talk to your child. Tell your child why the surgery or procedure is necessary. For example, “The doctor knows a way to stop the earaches. She is going to put little tubes in your ears. We won’t be able to see them, but they will help you hear better and take the ache out of your ears."
  • Find out what your child already knows. Ask your child to tell you what they already know or fear. "What is an operation?" "Do you know how they do it?" Sometimes playing with dolls, medical toys and masks or drawing pictures is easier for children to understand than explaining.
  • Have a discussion with your child. Check out the Welcome to Procedures at BC Children's Hospital (PDF) picture book with your child to help prepare for the day of the surgery or procedure. Discuss with your child what the hard parts of the surgery or procedure may be. Knowing what to expect can help you support your child.

These plans work best if you go over them a few times before the day. Children younger than four years old do better with a shorter preparation. Use a calm, soothing voice to reassure your child.

If you would like more specific advice on preparing your child for their surgery or procedure, please contact the Child Life Department.

During & after

Types of procedures

  • Day care surgery or procedure: Many surgeries, procedures, dental treatments and tests are booked as a day care surgery or procedure. This means your child is able to return home on the same day as the surgery or procedure.
  • Admit day of surgery: Patients come in on the day of the surgery or procedure and are admitted to a hospital bed for a longer stay.

What to bring

  • Your child's BC Services Card or BC CareCard.
  • Loose-fitting clothes for your child to wear home.‎
  • Your child's favourite book, toy or blanket.
  • Your child's housecoat and non-skid slippers or shoes.
  • Your child's pacifier, usual feeding bottle or sippy cup.
  • A pen and paper so you can take notes and write down any questions you may have.‎

While you are at the hospital

Once your child is asleep, a staff member will show you to the waiting area. While you wait you can go for a short walk to get a coffee or a bite to eat. This can help you feel calm and ready to support your child when they wake up.

After the surgery or procedure

After the surgery or procedure is finished your child's doctor will come to the waiting room to explain how everything went. It is important to be available in the waiting room at this time.

As soon as it is safe to do so a staff member will invite you to be with your child after their surgery or procedure. Every effort is made to have you at the bedside before your child wakes up however, they may be just waking up when you arrive. Your child may be drowsy, confused, restless or upset when they wake up. Keep the bed rails up and stay at your child's side for their safety.

Your child will stay in recovery until they are awake and comfortable.

  • If your child is having a day surgery or procedure, a nurse will explain how you can take care of your child at home. This includes what and when to feed your child, and how to keep them comfortable.
  • If your child is staying overnight in the hospital, a nurse will coordinate their transfer to the ward.

Going home

Children all recover differently. The staff will give you a general idea of the time your child will be ready to return home. Please know, the time is not exactly known and can change. Before you leave, the nurse will discuss how to care for your child once you return home.

For safety purposes, you must take your child home in a vehicle. If this is not possible please let your nurse know.

About us

Procedures and Surgical Services at BC Children's provides patient and family centred, culturally safe and holistic care for children having procedures that require an anesthetic. Our new department in the Teck Acute Care Centre features private rooms for all families before and after their surgery or procedure, in a space designed to be as welcoming as possible during your visit.

Our staff are involved in training health professionals, continuing education and sharing knowledge locally, nationally, and internationally. This means your health care team may include resident doctors, visiting fellows or student nurses.

Our goal is to make a difference in the lives of others by providing the best possible experience for children and their families from all parts of British Columbia and the Yukon. We strive to do this by ensuring access to compassionate and innovative care that demonstrates true partnership with our families.

Several services support surgical care:

  • The Pre-Anesthesia Clinic helps prepare children and their families for their surgery or procedure.
  • The Anesthesia Service offers sedation and anesthesia for a range of surgical and diagnostic procedures.
  • The Anesthetic Care Unit provides preoperative preparation and postoperative care for children undergoing a surgery or procedure.
  • The Pain Service offers support for children experiencing acute or chronic pain.

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