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preparing for surgery

We know there are a lot of activities around your child’s surgery. We do everything from small procedures to major surgeries. This page will apply to both, but we will use “surgery” throughout. This page will help guide and support you and your child before, during, and after your child’s surgery. 

who to call with questions

We are here to answer your questions and support your family before, during and after your child’s surgery!

question type

phone number

Leading up to your child’s surgery 937-641-4269
Day before the surgery or on the
day of the surgery
937-641-4269
Pre-registration (insurance check) 937-641-4000
Patient accounts (questions about your copayment) 937-641-5101
For questions specific to your child's surgery Call your child's clinic/surgeon

your surgery preparation checklist

We know that you have a lot on your mind as you prepare yourself and your child for their surgery. We’re here to help! This checklist below is a tool to help track your progress in the surgery pathway. When everything is checked off, you will know you’re ready for your surgery.

2 weeks out

  • I have given Dayton Children’s my current phone number and email.
  • I have scheduled my child’s pre-surgical exam (Please check with your child’s clinic to see if this is a requirement for surgery).
  • 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 surgery.
  • I have arranged child care for my other children.
  • I have completed my child’s history call with Dayton Children’s pre-surgery nurse. If my child has had an emergency room visit for illness within the last month, I let them know.

3 days out

  • I have bought any over-the-counter medications I may need after my child’s surgery (example: Tylenol and Motrin).
  • I have shopped for any food and comfort items my child may need before or after the surgery.
  • I have spoken to my child about their surgery using these tips for preschool to early elementary-age kids, and these tips for late elementary and older kids.
  • My child is free of rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, cough or congestion. If my child has these symptoms, I've called the the surgery team at 937-641-4269 to let them know.

1 day before surgery

  • I know what time my child should stop eating/drinking/nursing for the surgery.
  • 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-surgery nurse. If my child developed any symptoms  (rash, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, cough or congestion) I let them know.
  • I know what time to arrive at the surgery center.
  • I know where I’m going for my child’s surgery (main campus - 1 Childrens Plaza, Dayton, OH 45404, or south campus - 3333 West Tech Road, Miamisburg, OH 45342) and how to get there.
  • My child has selected comfort items they want to bring to the hospital and I have washed them
  • If you have not received a call from the pre-surgery nurse and it’s after 4:00 pm the day before the surgery, please call 937-641-4269.

The morning of surgery

  • 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 my child's car seat/booster seat to get them home safely.
  • I have the completed form from my pre-surgery visit (if applicable).

before surgery: signing a surgical consent form

Before the procedure is done, we will ask you to sign a surgical consent form. Specific people can sign this form. Those people are outlined below.

  • Biological parent: The biological parents are the child’s natural mother and father. Biological parents who have guardianship of their child may sign all paperwork on the child’s behalf.
  • Adoptive parent: The adoptive parent is the parent who has been granted adoption of the child by court order. A copy of the court’s approval of adoption must be provided to Dayton Children’s for the adoptive parents to be able to sign consent forms.
  • Foster parent: The foster parent may or may not be able to sign paperwork for the child. This depends upon the state and county in which the child lives. Please contact your case worker to clarify the proper documentation is available. We will require proper paperwork from the county in which the child lives. Please bring the name and phone number of the social worker handling the case if questions arise.
  • Legal guardian: In Ohio, guardians are appointed by the probate courts, and are entitled to make medical decisions in the best interest of the child. The probate court issues an order appointing the applicant as the guardian. A copy of this order must be provided to Dayton Children’s for the appointed guardian to be able to sign consent forms.

If you are an adult patient, 18 years of age or older who has the ability to make informed decisions, you are legally responsible for decisions related to your health care, and will sign consent forms. However, you will not be able to drive yourself home after surgery and must be accompanied by another adult.

before surgery: pre-surgery appointment

Some clinics may require a pre-surgery visit with your child’s pediatrician within 30 days of the scheduled surgery or procedure. Please check with your clinic to see if this is a requirement for surgery.

before surgery: monitoring your child's health

It’s best if your child is healthy before going into their surgery. Let us know if you have any concerns about your child not feeling well before their surgery. Call the surgery center at 937-641-4269 if your child has a rash, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, cough or congestion within three days of their surgery date, or if they have gone to the emergency department for an illness within a month of their surgery date. 

before surgery: when to stop eating and drinking, morning medicines

For your child’s safety, it is very important to follow the instructions for eating and drinking before their surgery. If these important safety guidelines are not followed, your child’s surgery may be delayed or cancelled.

The pre-surgery nurse will tell you when your child needs to stop 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.

  • If your child has food or drink in their stomach during surgery it can cause very serious problems.
  • Even a small amount of food in your child’s stomach could be harmful.

What about morning medications?

  • Please talk about any medications your child takes during the pre-surgery phone call.
  • Some medications can be taken the day of surgery with sips of water.

before surgery: showering and bathing

Your child should shower or bathe the night before their surgery and/or the day of their surgery. You may also be asked to use a special soap that you can get from your local pharmacy. This soap may be given to you by the doctor. If not, an antibacterial soap like Dial is great at killing germs. It is important to keep soap below the neck, avoiding the eyes and ears.

On the day of your child’s surgery, make sure they are wearing clean clothes or pajamas. Be sure to wash any comfort items that you’re bringing with you, too.

before surgery: important phone calls

7-10 days before the surgery, you will receive a call from a registration staff member to make sure we have your insurance information right. You will also have 1 or 2 phone calls with your pre-surgery nurse before your child’s surgery. Please let us know if your child has trouble with sensory processing or anxiety. We have unique pre-operative sensory rooms designed specifically for these children. Read more about our sensory-friendly surgery experience at this link.
10-14 days before your child’s surgery, the nurse will go over your child’s:

  • Health history
  • Medications
  • Surgical history
  • Family history

Up to 1 business day before your child’s surgery, the nurse will call to go over:

  • The time that you need to arrive to the surgery center
  • Make sure that you know whether you’re going to the main campus in Dayton, or the south campus in Springboro
  • The time that your child needs to stop eating/drinking/nursing
  • Other information to prepare for the surgery
  • Any questions you have
  • If you haven’t heard from the nurse by 4:00 pm the day before your child’s surgery, please call 937-641-4269.

If no one answers, please leave a voicemail with your name and your child’s name.

before surgery: getting ready at home

There are some things you can do before your child’s surgery to make everything go smoothly for you and the whole family!

Plan ahead:

  • Please arrange for someone to watch your other children and pets so you can focus on your child’s care that day.
  • If needed, arrange for transportation to and from the surgery center. Make sure you have a car seat/booster seat for your child (if needed based on car seat safety guidelines).

Stock your fridge with:

  • Clear liquids (water, Gatorade (NO RED), apple juice and Pedialyte)
  • Your child’s favorite foods to support them when it’s time to start eating again

Get organized:

  • Write down your child’s current medication, dose, and how often the child takes the medications. You can also take a picture of the bottles with that information. Or, you can bring the bottles with you.
  • Gather and wash any items that your child will bring with them for comfort, such as stuffed animals and blankets. Please note: Service animals are allowed, but other pets are not allowed as comfort items.
  • Help your child pick loose-fitting, comfortable clothing to wear on the surgery day.
  • If breastfeeding, please bring your own breast pump and supplies.
  • Make sure you have your health insurance card with you the day of surgery.
  • If you plan to spend the night, pack a bag ahead of time.

Plan for comfort after the surgery:

  • Buy Tylenol and/or Motrin. Most kids take both after surgery. Our retail pharmacies at our main and south campuses also have Tylenol and Motrin. If you forget to buy some before your child’s surgery, you can buy it here.
  • Have ice or heat pads ready, as directed by your care team.

day of surgery: getting to the surgery center

  • Main campus: Park in the free parking garage and come in the main entrance. Your first stop will be the welcome center in the main lobby. They will guide you to the surgery center on the second floor.
  • South campus: Park in the center of the lot. Go in the entrance on the right side of the building, then take the elevator or stairs to the second floor surgery registration area.
  • Check in at the surgery registration desk. You and your child will get an ID bracelet. This is for your child’s safety, so please leave it on and make sure your child leaves it on. Make sure the information is correct, too.
  • After you’re checked in, you and your child will be taken to your room to prepare your child for their surgery.
  • No food or drink is allowed in the pre- or post-op surgical area. If you have other children with you, an adult needs to wait with them in the waiting area. Only two adults are allowed in this room, so any other family members will also need to wait in the waiting area.
  • You will meet with your child’s care team, including a nurse, the anesthesiologist (doctor who gives the medicine to make your child sleepy) and surgeon (doctor who will do the surgery).
  • The surgeon and anesthesiologist will talk to you about the surgery and answer any questions you have.
  • You will be able to stay with your child until they go to the operating room.

Please leave us your cell phone number so that we can call you when your child is waking up. You can also track your child’s progress during surgery by looking at the TV monitors in the waiting area. If you leave the waiting area, please let us know.

after surgery: recovery area and side effects

After surgery, we will take your child to the recovery area to wake up. Each child and surgery are different, so the length of time spent in the recovery area varies.
While in recovery, a nurse will watch your child closely. If your child is in pain, we will give them medicine as needed. Once they are awake enough and feeling ready to drink, your child may start with some ice chips or clear liquids.
Other side effects include:

  • Being tired or drowsy
  • Irritable or dizzy
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sore throat (if a tube was used to help with breathing)

These may last for a day or two. Please tell your nurse if you notice any other side effects.

after surgery: supporting a safe recovery

Your child will need plenty of rest after their surgery. Do your best to keep things simple. Create a quiet and restful environment for your child to recover. After surgery, your child needs to have an adult with them to make sure they have a safe recovery. Here are some more tips for helping your child recover:

  • Encourage your child to rest and take naps.
  • Offer quiet, restful activities like reading together or watching movies.
  • Make favorite foods to help your child start eating again.
  • Don’t overwhelm your child with guests.

One business day after your child’s surgery, a nurse will call you to see how your child is doing. If you have any concerns before then, call 937-641-4269.

after surgery: managing pain and other side effects

You should schedule a follow-up appointment so that your doctor can check on your child’s recovery.

  • Your child may feel pain while healing. To speed healing, it’s important to manage the pain. Follow the doctor’s orders for giving pain medicine.
  • Important reminder! If the pain medication you have been prescribed contains Tylenol (acetaminophen), DO NOT take additional doses of Tylenol (acetaminophen).
  • Your child may feel sick to their stomach. If your child feels sick to their stomach or throws up, offer foods that are easier on the stomach such as apple juice, flat soda, Jell-O, popsicles, Gatorade and clear soups. It is important that your child drinks plenty of fluids.
  • A slight fever is normal. Many children develop a slight fever after surgery. This should go away within a day or so. Drinking plenty of fluids can help lower a fever.

For more information on after-surgery care, visit this page.

after surgery: when to call the doctor

  • When your child shows signs of infection. Signs of infection include fever, growing tenderness at the surgery site, severe pain, a large amount of drainage or bleeding, foul-smelling drainage, redness or swelling.
  • Your child’s fever is over 100.4° F (taken under the tongue for pre-school age or older, rectal or in the ear for younger children) or lasts longer than 24 hours.
  • It has been over 8 to 10 hours since the surgery and your child is still not able to urinate (pee) or is complaining about not being able to do so.

If you have concerns about your child’s health, call the doctor right away. Do not wait until your child’s next appointment.

after surgery: billing and insurance

  • Copayments will be collected at the time of surgery and can be paid with cash, personal check or major credit card. We can give you an estimate, but your insurance company can tell you how much your copay will be.
  • You may receive three bills. One from the surgeon, one from Dayton Children’s, and one from Children’s Oncology Group, Inc. (provides anesthesia services).
  • Bring your health insurance card on the day of surgery.