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Your Child’s Surgery

2 to 3 weeks before your child’s surgery

The healthcare team may ask you to contact the hospital or the hospital may call you to give you information about getting your child ready for surgery. You can ask any questions that you have at this time.

If there’s any change to ​your phone number before your child’s surgery, contact your child’s surgeon.

Review the information on how to prepare your child for surgery.

Don’t give your child any medicine with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) (such as Aspirin) or ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) in the 10 days before surgery.

Interpreter services

If you speak or understand limited English, or are deaf or hard of hearing, the Alberta Health Services Interpretation service can be used to provide a certified healthcare interpreter by phone or video remote. They can help you understand your child’s health situation. If you need an interpreter, talk to your healthcare provider. Interpretive Services is available in over 200 languages. Hospital staff can use this service to help you during your child’s hospital stay.

Pick up a few things for home after surgery

Have over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen (such as Tylenol or Tempra) or ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) ready at home. If you have questions about pain medicines, talk to your pharmacist.

Make sure to have fluids such as soups, popsicles, and juices and solid foods such as pasta, crackers, and bread that will be easy for your child to eat.

If your child needs a wheelchair or other medical equipment at home after surgery, you may be able to borrow or rent what they need. If you don’t know if your child will need any equipment after surgery, ask your child’s surgeon.

Pre-operative anesthesia clinic appointment

Some children will need to see the anesthesiologist before they have surgery. An anesthesiologist is a doctor who gives your child medicine that prevents them from feeling pain and waking up during surgery. If your child needs a pre-admission appointment, it’s usually scheduled for a few days or weeks before surgery. Learn more about anesthesia.

Bring the following to your child’s appointment:

  • your child’s provincial healthcare card and either their birth certificate or passport​
  • a list of your child’s medicines including over the-counter medicines like vitamins and herbal supplements
  • guardianship papers (if you're not the child’s birth parent)
  • books, games, and other items to keep your child busy while you wait
  • any personal items that your child may n​eed during the appointment
  • if you have to bring other children, try to bring another adult with you
  • a list of questions about your child getting anesthesia or how pain is managed after surgery
  • a pen and paper or mobile device to write down or record information during the appointment

If you need help making a list of your child’s medicines, ask your pharmacy for a printout. To help you get started making a list of medicines​, click on the link and put in your child’s information.

What to expect from the appointment

The clinic is very busy so you may be at the clinic for up to 3 hours or more. Eat before you come to the appointment and bring a snack in case you or your child get hungry.

At your child’s appointment, a nurse will:

  • talk to you about what to expect on the day of the surgery and how to get your child ready for surgery
  • record your child’s height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, breathing rate, and oxygen level and other measurements as needed
  • ask you about medicines that your child takes
  • let you know if your child needs any tests before the surgery, such as blood test or X-rays

The nurse will answer your questions and talk to you about any concerns you have. If you have questions about how to manage your child’s pain after surgery, talk to the anesthesiologist or the pre-admission clinic nurse.

You may meet other healthcare providers like a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a social worker, or a child life specialist. Learn more about other members of the healthcare team.

Blood tests

The nurse will let you know if your child needs blood tests before surgery. They’ll let you know where you can get the test done. If you’d like numbing cream to help lessen the pain from the poke during the blood test, talk to your pharmacist or someone at the pre-admission clinic. You can apply the numbing cream as directed before your child’s blood test.

Child Life Specialists

Some hospitals have child life specialists and programs that prepare children for surgery. A child life specialist can suggest ways to help your child deal with anxiety or stress about the surgery or the hospital stay.

A child life specialist may be available to talk to your child before or on the day of surgery about what to expect, answer questions, and let your child play with medical equipment.

Contact the hospital directly or go to the hospital website for more information about child life specialists.​​​​

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