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Easing a Child’s Fears and Anxieties About Medical Procedures

Before your child undergoes any medical treatment, it is critical for you to have a full understanding of the diagnosis, procedure and options available. This will help you manage the fears and anxieties your child may feel.

Types of Surgery for Children

Surgery can be classified as major or minor, depending on the seriousness of the illness, the parts of the body affected, the complexity of the operation, and the expected recovery time.

Types of Surgery for Children

Minimally invasive surgery is often used today. It allows the child to recuperate faster and with less pain.

The Hospital Setting

Many surgeries performed on children are done as an outpatient. With minor surgeries, your child will return to the outpatient surgery center after spending the required time in the recovery room.

Preoperative Visit with the Surgeon

This is the time to ask questions: What are the expected results? What are the possible risks and complications? How long will the surgery take?

Hospital Visit / Preoperative Clinic

Touring the hospital before surgery can help your child see the sights, sounds, and events he or she will experience the day of surgery. It is a non-threatening, often reassuring, way to learn about the hospital.

Blood Transfusions in Children

If your child's doctor decides that your child needs blood or blood products, he or she will explain the reasons for the transfusion.

Informed Consent

You will be asked to sign an informed consent form which states in detail that you understand the risks and benefits of your child's surgery.

CT Abdominal Scans in Children

A CT abdominal scan is a type of medical exam that uses X-ray equipment and a computer to make many cross-sectional images of the abdomen.

Latex Allergy

Symptoms of latex allergy include watery or itchy eyes, wheezing, hives, flushing or a skin rash, itching, or swelling.

Preparing the Infant for Surgery

It's important to keep your baby's routine the same before the day of surgery. Make sure you, your baby, and your family are well rested.

Preparing the Toddler for Surgery

Read books to your toddler about going to the hospital. Keep any explanations simple and be careful of the words you use.

Preparing the Preschooler for Surgery

One of the major fears preschoolers have is fear of the unknown. Tell your child about the surgery several days before the procedure and perhaps even visit the hospital for a tour.

Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery

Have your child explain back to you what is going to happen in the hospital. School-aged children sometimes will listen carefully, but not understand all that was said.

Preparing the Teenager for Surgery

Allow your teen to be part of the decision-making process. Encourage him or her to make a list of questions to ask the doctors and nurses.

Preparing Siblings for Surgery

When your child goes to the hospital, brothers and sisters may feel afraid, worried, or confused. They are often afraid simply because they do not know what to expect, and they may imagine the worst.

Surgery and the Breastfeeding Infant

If your baby requires surgery, you may feel helpless. But there’s something you can do to make the experience a little less traumatic: breastfeed. Not only is it comforting for your baby, but nursing will provide the most nutritious and easily digestible food for a healing body.

The Day of Surgery

Before coming to the hospital, remove any watches, necklaces, or earrings that your child wears and leave them at home so they are not misplaced.

The Operating Room

Your child will need to know that people in the operating room will be wearing surgical clothes to help prevent germs from infecting the surgical incision.

The Surgical Team for Children

Most surgical teams include a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist, and an operating room nurse. The number of team members differs depending on the type of surgery performed.

Types of Anesthesia

During surgery, your child will be given some form of anesthesia—medication given to relieve pain and sensation.