close   X

preparing for surgery

When your child needs surgery, we know it can be a stressful and uncertain time. That is why our team places a high priority on communication. We want you to know what to expect, understand the treatment plan and receive answers to all your questions. Our goal is for your experience at Dayton Children’s to be a positive one! Learn as much as you can before the big day. Ask your child’s doctor, nurses, or staff to provide you with information about your child's procedure.

If your child is old enough, help her understand what will be happening and why without using alarming language like “the doctor will cut you open.” Be open and honest with your child giving as much information as she can understand.

Surgery can be scary for kids of all ages. So you need to understand their fears and talk about them.

  • Common fears of young children are separation from you and the possibility of pain
  • School-age children may fear needles, knives and damage to their bodies. Let them know the surgery will fix the problem.
  • Teenagers may have additional fears—losing control, missing out on activities, being embarrassed or sounding childish. Teens may also be afraid of waking during the operation or not waking afterward. We have developed additional information to help you prepare for surgery below.

before your child’s surgery or procedure

Wondering what questions to ask before your child’s surgery? If you have time, review and complete the following checklist at least one week before your child’s scheduled surgery or procedure. Being prepared will help you and your child feel less anxious.

take a tour

south campus video tour

watch our south campus video tour to learn more about what your family can expect 

main campus

If your child is scheduled for surgery at the main campus, you may be interested in a pre-surgery tour to help your child feel more at ease. To arrange a tour, please call our child life team at 937-641-5903.

The pediatric surgical services division at Dayton Children’s has 70 specialists trained to perform surgical procedures on kids, and together they have hundreds of years of experience caring only for kids.


Copayments will be collected at the time of service and can be paid with cash, personal check or major credit card. Your insurance company can tell you how much your copy will be. We can give you an estimate of the copayment before you arrive for your child's appointment.

call your insurance company

If you have any questions or concerns about your insurance coverage please call your insurance company before your appointment. If your plan contains a preferred provider list, please confirm that Dayton Children’s physicians are included.

If your plan requires a referral from your primary care provider, have your primary care doctor fax it to us at 937-641-4500 at least four days before your child’s visit.

If you have questions about the referral, contact central scheduling at 937-641-4000. Please call after your child’s doctor has sent the referral.

talk to your child about anesthesia

It may help your child handle the stress and uncertainly of the procedure or surgery if you have a conversation ahead of time about what to expect. Here are a few talking points to consider:

Let your child know where you'll be during the whole experience. Reassure your child that you'll be in the waiting room nearby during the surgery and in the recovery room when he or she wakes up after the surgery. You may also be able to sit with your child until he or she falls asleep before the surgery. Discuss this with your anesthesiologist.

And explain that (in many outpatient procedures), your child can come home soon after the surgery is done.

Learn more

request x-rays and test results

  • Talk to your child’s primary doctor to find out if he or she will be sending test results and x-rays or if you will need to bring them to your child’s appointment.

make a list of medicines

  • Make a list of all prescription and nonprescription medicines and supplements (vitamins, herbal medicine, etc) your child is taking, or bring the medicine bottles with you. Make sure you have the name of each medicine as well as the dosage and instructions.

give permission to treat if you can't be with your child

find places to stay and eat

  • Many of our surgeries do not require an overnight stay. If you will be staying overnight, see our overnight accommodations.
  • There is room for one parent to stay overnight in the child’s room. Overnight accommodations may be available at the Ronald McDonald House located across the street from Dayton Children’s, as well as other area hotels and motels.
  • Meals are available for purchase through the hospital cafeteria. The patient relations manager, your child’s nurse or the information desk can give you a list of area dining, shopping and entertainment options.

arrange for child care

  • It is important you are able to focus on your hospitalized child. Please arrange for child care if you have other children at home. Dayton Children’s does not provide child care for visiting brothers and sisters.

understand visitation policy

  • Parents or guardians may visit 24 hours a day and all other visitors such as brothers and sisters, may visit from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
  • Please note that some special care units (such as pediatric intensive care and the Newborn Intensive Care Unit have limited visiting privileges). Check with special care units for visiting information.
  • General visiting should be limited to three people at a time per patient and only two siblings may visit at a time. Visiting brothers and sisters younger than 15 years of age must be screened for communicable diseases and supervised by at least one adult.
  • Please see before your visit for more information on visitation.

tell us about your special needs

  • If your family has special needs, requires a wheelchair, a sign language interpreter, a language translator or any other type of assistance, please let us know before your arrival so we can make you and your family as comfortable as possible.
  • Our child life specialist in surgery helps children both before and after surgery. She works with patients to talk through what is going to happen in surgery and provides distraction techniques. For children with special needs our child life specialist will contact the family prior to their surgery to discuss coping strategies for before and after surgery.

tell us about your cultural beliefs

  • Please let us know about any personal, cultural or spiritual beliefs or practices that may affect your child's treatment and care.

parent checklist

2 weeks out

· I have given Dayton Children’s my current phone number and email.

· I have scheduled my child’s pre-procedural exam.

· I have scheduled a tour if I wish to have one.

· I have my child’s medications and any documents for guardianship if needed.

· I have let the office/hospital know that I need an interpreter.

1 week out

· I have transportation to and from my child’s procedure.

· I have arranged child care for my other children.

· I have completed my child’s history call with Dayton Children’s pre-procedure nurse.

· My child and I have watched the procedure program videos.

3 days out

· I have bought any over-the-counter medications I may need after my child’s procedure (example: Tylenol and Motrin).

· I have shopped for any food and comfort items my child may need before or after the procedure.

· I have spoken to my child about their procedure using the tips sheet from section 3.3.

1 day before the procedure

· I know what time my child should stop eating/drinking/nursing for the procedure.

· My child is free of rashes, diarrhea, vomiting or fever.

· My child has taken a bath/shower.

· I have helped my child remove any make-up, nail polish, jewelry and piercings.

· If my child wears contacts, they have been removed. I am bringing glasses (if my child has them), or a contact lens holder.

· I have had a second call with Dayton Children’s pre-procedure nurse.

· I know what time to arrive at the surgery center.

· I know where I’m going for my child’s procedure (main or south campus) and how to get there.

· My child has picked and I have washed any comfort items they want to take along. 

The morning of the procedure

· If directed to do so, I have given my child their morning medications with sips of water ONLY.

· I have all our personal items that I packed the day before (example: comfort items, glasses).

· I have the completed form from my pre-procedure visit.

If you have not received a call from the pre-procedure nurse and it’s after 1:00 pm the day before the
procedure, please call us. For the main campus (Dayton), call 937-641-4269. For the south campus (Springboro), call 937-641-3880.

eating and drinking before surgery

The pre-procedure nurse will tell you when your child needs to top eating solid foods, when they will stop drinking milk or breastmilk (if relevant), when they can only have clear liquids, and when they need to stop eating or drinking everything. Here are examples of solid foods and clear liquids.

tips to help prepare your child for surgery

preschoolers through early elementary school

1. Be honest. Stress that children don’t know about before is harder to deal with than stress they know about and are ready for. Not telling your child about his or her surgery can be worse than telling him or her.

2. Listen. Allow your child to tell you why they think they are coming to the hospital and what they will be doing. Once you have a better understanding of what they know, you can explain it better and clear up any misunderstandings.

3. Play doctor.  About a week before, start playing doctor with your child. Children learn and make sense of their world through play. Playing doctor with your child will help him or her understand and begin to process the idea of surgery and coming to the hospital. Preschoolers often view
coming to the hospital and surgery as punishment for something they have done wrong. Keep this in mind when talking to your child about coming to the hospital.

4. Let them know they won’t be alone.

5. Help them understand why they are coming. For example, if your child is having ear tubes, let them know they are getting them so they don’t have ear infections any more.

6. Talk about what might be different about their body after the procedure. If your child is
spending the night, let them know. It can be helpful to tell your child they will be having a sleepover at the hospital. This is a great way to take the scariness out of it. Make sure they know that you will be at the sleepover with him or her.

7. Answer your child’s questions honestly and simply.

8. Show them pictures of the hospital.

9. Bring his or her favorite toy, blanket, or pillow from home for him or her to take back to the
operating room.

10. No matter how they act upon arriving to the hospital, keep being positive with them and remind them how brave they are being.

late elementary school to adolescents

1. Be honest and truthful. Stress that children don’t know about before is harder to deal with than stress they know about and are ready for. Help your child understand what will be happening.

2. Listen to your child. Find out what your child thinks is going to happen at the hospital so that you can clear up any misunderstandings he or she might have.

3. Answer your child’s questions honestly and simply.

4. Show your child pictures of the hospital and the surgery area.

5. Talk about how he or she will feel after the procedure.

6. Pre-teens and adolescents can be scared about anesthesia (that they won’t be able to sleep, will wake up during their procedure, or won’t wake up after). Help your child understand that the
anesthesiologist will be giving them the anesthesia medicine continuously during his or her procedure.  When the surgeon is finished with the procedure, then the anesthesiologist will stop giving your child the medicine and your child will automatically wake up.

7. Make sure your child knows he or she will never be alone.

8. Give your child choices. Giving your child choices gives them control in an environment they don’t have control over.

9. If your child is over the age of 10, let them know they will be getting an IV.  Make sure he or she
understands that the IV is actually a straw and that the needle doesn’t stay in his or her body.

10. Support his or her feelings. Don’t make your child feel embarrassed about the way they feel concerning the hospital. Sometimes teens can react to feelings of anxiousness in ways that don’t make sense to adults (like anger, disinterest and depression).  Support your child’s feelings and help them cope with their emotions.

know how to get here

  • We want to make it easy to find Dayton Children's. Visit locations to obtain door-to-door directions, written directions and an area map. If you are traveling from out of town and need a place to stay, please also visit our visitation and sleepovers section
  • For help with directions, call 937-641-3000.

know where to park

apply for financial assistance

  • Dayton Children's is a not-for-profit medical center, which cares for all children regardless of financial circumstances. We are committed to working with families to help you pay your medical bills. You can apply for Financial Assistance before, during or after your child receives care at Dayton Children's. See our billing section for more details.

understand your hospital bill

  • For information on paying your bill, see our billing section. Your child's anesthesia services will be provided by Children's Anesthesia Group, Inc. These services are billed separately from the hospital. Children's Anesthesia Group, Inc may accept different insurance plans than Dayton Children's. Talk to your insurance company before surgery to make sure all services will be covered.

after surgery

Our team provides education to help you prepare for your child’s post-surgery needs, and in many cases will schedule your child’s follow-up clinic appointment before you leave the hospital.

After patients return home, our team continues to provide support and care. If you have questions or need assistance, please call the pediatric surgery clinic at 937-461-5020. After hours, dial 937-641-3000 to reach the hospital’s operator, and ask for the pediatric surgeon on call.

Learn more

contact us request an appointment

The surgery clinic welcomes phone calls Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. 937-461-5020.

A physician referral is necessary prior to the child’s first visit. All follow up appointments will be made during your visit.