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Surgery

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

 

Before surgery

Watch the BC Children’s Online Surgery Tour to help you and your child prepare for surgery. 

The video is available in five languages:

The operating room

Read the Going into the Operating Room With Your Child flipbook to earn how you can help reduce separation anxiety and stress during your child's transition into the operationg room (OR).

Other resources to help you prepare:

Hearing that your child needs surgery can be stressful for the whole family. We cannot remove all the anxiety, but the goal of the health care team is to make the experience as easy as possible. We believe that you know your child best. We will try to support your efforts to calm your child’s fears and help him or her to grow stronger from the experience.  

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

  • Be honest
    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 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 he or she knows or fears. "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 than explaining.
  • Have a discussion with your child
    Discuss with your child what the hard parts of the procedure may be. Will it be climbing onto the bed? Will it be the instant of the needle poke? Plan some way of getting over this time.

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 surgery, please contact the Child Life Department. The Child Life staff can give you specific advice on how to best prepare your child for surgery.

Fasting

Be sure that you know and understand the fasting instructions your child needs to follow before surgery. An empty stomach is an important part of your child’s safety during an anesthetic. If your child does not follow the fasting instructions, then the surgery or procedure could be postponed.

For more information:

Your visit

Surgery date

The surgeon contacts the hospital to arrange the surgery and then gives you a date. Hospital Admitting phones you about one week before this date to pre-register your child. 

A nurse from the Day Care Unit will call you one working day before the procedure. She will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.


Types of surgery

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

If your doctor wants tests and measurements before the surgery, a nurse will call to set up a time for your child to go to the Pre-admission Clinic.

Day of surgery

What to bring

 Essentials:
  • Surgery appointment information (i.e. doctor’s name, department name and location)
  • Name, address and telephone number of your referring doctor
  • Name, address and telephone number of your family doctor (if different from above)
  • BC CareCard
  • Blue hospital ID card (if your child has one from a previous visit)
  • The completed medical history form, if one was given to you.
  • An empty bottle if you have a baby who likes a special nipple.
Nice to have:
  • Housecoat and slippers for your child (not essential)
  • Loose fitting clothes for your child to go home in
  • Pillow and bed linen if you, the parent or guardian, plan to stay overnight with your child
  • A comfort item for your child (favorite toy or blanket).
  • Books, small toys, magazines if your child is being admitted to hospital.
  • Your child should have a bath and hair washed. Please remove any makeup, nail polish or jewelry from your child.

Your child should have a bath and hair washed. Please remove any makeup, nail polish or jewelry from your child.

While you are at the hospital:

Wile your child is in surgery,the staff in the Day Care Unit will show you where to wait. If you go for a walk or leave for a snack, tell the volunteer and write your name and where you are going on the communication board. If you are in your child’s room, ask the unit clerk for a pager so that we can let you know as soon as you can join your child.

After surgery

After the surgery or procedure, your child goes to the Post-anesthetic Care Unit. This unit is staffed with nurses trained to care for children recovering from an anesthetic or heavy sedation. While your child is unconscious, a nurse will give care to your child only. After your child wakes, the nurse may divide attention between your child and one other.

The safe recovery of your child is always our first concern. In the Post-anesthetic Care Unit, the staff must be able to respond quickly. A crowded space is not easy to move through. This is why we ask that only one family member stay with the child. 

Your child may be confused and restless after the medication and surgery. Please keep the stretcher side rails up unless you have checked with your child’s nurse. Stay near your child’s bedside and respect the privacy of other patients and families. You can bring your child’s favourite toy, pillow, or blanket into unit. It will help your child feel secure.

When your child is ready, she or he returns to Day Care or goes to the ward.


Discharge from Day Care

Children all recover differently. The time when your child will be ready to return home is not known exactly. The staff will give you a general idea. Before you leave, the nurse will discuss the care your child will need at home.

We strongly advise that someone drive you home so you can give full attention to your child. If no family or friend is available, consider taking a cab. We advise you not to travel home with your child on the bus.

About us

The Surgical Suites Department provides care for children requiring surgery. The services include the Surgical Day Unit, the Operating Room, the Post-Anesthetic Care Unit and the Department of Anesthesia. This care is provided within a family-centred environment.

The members of this department are all specialists in the perioperative treatment and care for children throughout BC. Patients are referred to our facility from the Yukon, as well as from the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. 

Our staff are involved in training health professionals, continuing education and sharing knowledge locally, nationally, and internationally.


Our goals

  • To provide for the optimal treatment of surgical conditions in children. This is being done by increasing available resources and reducing waiting times.
  • To continue to improve upon our provision of family-centered care in the perioperative environment.

Programs and services

Several services offered to support surgical care:

  • The Pre-Admission Clinic helps shorten your child’s stay in the hospital by preparing them for surgery.
  • The Anesthesia Service offers sedation and anesthesia for a range of surgical and diagnostic procedures.
  • The Surgical Day Care Unit provides preoperative preparation and post-operative care for children undergoing day surgery. The Operating Room is available for children undergoing primary, secondary and tertiary surgical interventions.
  • The Post Anesthetic Care Unit provides recovery for most children after their surgery or procedure from their anesthetic.
  • The Pain Service offers support for children experiencing acute or chronic pain. 

Our services

The General Surgery Division provides surgical treatment for head and neck, thoracic, digestive, and oncologic diseases for children of all ages. The division plays an active role in the treatment of birth defects, traumatic injuries, and vascular access, including extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). 


Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) Program

The general surgeons also provide care through the Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) Program. This program performs about 150 laparoscopic and thoracoscopic procedures annually, including:

  • appendectomy
  • splenectomy
  • fundoplication
  • adrenalectomy
  • thymectomy
  • lung and mediastinal tumour biopsy and resection

Our activities

Members are active in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, research, regional and international child health advocacy, and hospital quality assurance.


Health care team

Division Head, Pediatric General Surgery

Dr. Eric Webber


Pediatric Surgical Faculty

Dr. Geoffrey Blair

Dr. Sonia Butterworth

Dr. James Murphy

Dr. Erik Skarsgard


Nurse Clinicians

Christine Adamson, RN, BSN

Amie Nowak, RN, BSN

 
 

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