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Surgery or Procedures

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

Before the procedure

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

Be sure to read "BCCH Pamphlet_Your Child's Procedure" booklet to help you prepare for your visit. 

Preoperative Fasting:  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.   This is so that they don't vomit and choke when the anesthetic is starting. If there is food in their stomach before your child's 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 – so that your child is safe.  We understand that a hungry child is an upset and frustrated child, we know that is really hard for a parent to let their child be hungry – no parent wants their child to feel hungry. However, we need your help to ensure that your child is as safe as possible while they are getting their 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 (e.g. 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 nurses at 604-875-2191. 

We look forwards 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 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
    Check out "this picture book" with your child to help prepare for the day of the procedure. Discuss with your child what the hard parts of what the 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 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.

Questions you may want to ask about your child's upcoming surgery 

During & After

Procedure date

The surgeon contacts the hospital to arrange the surgery. You will receive a patient notification email or letter that you have been placed on the waitlist and then a call from the OR Booking Office to set a date. Hospital Admitting phones you about one week before this date to pre-register your child. 

A nurse will call you one working day before the procedure. They will give you your fasting and arrival times for the day of the procedure.

Types of Procedures

  • 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-Anesthesia Clinic.

What to bring

  • 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/BC services card
  • The completed medical history form, if one was given to you.
  • An empty bottle if you have a baby who likes a special nipple.
  • Your child should have a bath and hair washed. Please remove any makeup, nail polish or jewelry from your child.

  • If your child has long hair tie it back the morning of the procedure.


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.

While you are at the hospital:

While 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 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 to go home, the nurse will make sure you feel comfortable doing so.

Going Home

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 Procedures department at BCCH provides patient and family centered, culturally safe and holistic care for children having procedures that require an anaesthetic. Our new department in the Teck Acute Care Center features private rooms for all families before and after their 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.

Our goal

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 offered to support surgical care:
  • The Pre-Anesthesia 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. Erik Skarsgard

Nurse Clinicians

Christine Adamson, RN, BSN

Amie Nowak, RN, BSN

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