Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital provides inpatient and outpatient surgery for infants, children and young adults.
Our team provides surgical care for both general and specialized conditions, including chest wall deformities, tumors, esophageal and airway concerns, and hernias.
Preparing for surgery can be stressful for a family, but knowing what to expect can help put you and your child at ease. Here’s what you need to know to help you prepare for a stay that is as comfortable and safe as possible.
Preparing for Surgery
It is important to prepare your child for surgery by following these guidelines:
Two weeks before surgery, make sure your child is getting plenty of rest and eating healthy food.
Call your doctor if your child develops a fever, cough, rash or runny nose. Even a slight illness can cause issues during a procedure.
The day before surgery, a pre-admission nurse will call you by 4 p.m. to let you know when to arrive and check in at registration. If you don’t receive a call by 4 p.m., call 727-767-8431 as soon as possible.
No Food or Drink Before Surgery
Make sure you understand our “nothing by mouth” guidelines (NPO) before surgery:
- Midnight before surgery: Stop all solid food, including candy, gum and mints.
- 6 hours before surgery: Stop infant formula or milk for children less than 2 years of age.
- 4 hours before surgery: Stop breast milk.
- 3 hours before surgery: Stop clear liquids, including water, clear apple juice, Pedialyte, popsicles, gelatin, soda.
If your child is on tube feedings, please refer to instructions from the pre-admission nurse.
The most important thing to remember is to make sure your child does not eat or drink anything too close to surgery. Not having an empty stomach when receiving anesthesia may result in complications. If your child does have something to eat or drink the day of surgery, or has not followed the NPO guidelines, let the pre-operative team know right away by calling 727-767-4128.
Day of Surgery
Be prepared the day of surgery by knowing what to bring, where to park and where to check in.
On the day of your child’s surgery, remember to bring:
- Guardianship papers
- Medications list
- Favorite toy or comfort item
Valet parking is available for a small fee at the main entrance of the hospital. Free self-parking is also available in the visitors parking garage on Fifth Street South.
Once you arrive at our hospital, follow these three steps:
- Check in at the information desk and get a visitor badge.
- Then, go to surgery registration on the second floor of the hospital where you will sign in and wait for your child’s name to be called.
- Your child will receive his or her patient identification bracelet and a nurse will escort your child to the pre-operative (pre-op) unit.
When your child arrives in the pre-op unit, it will be a busy time meeting the team members who will help you and your child have a safe and comfortable experience. Your child will change into hospital pajamas, have vital signs taken and we will review medical history. A member of the pre-op team may order pre-op medicine for your child during this time.
Your pre-op team will include:
- Pre-op nurse
- Nurse practitioner
- Operating-room nurse
- Anesthesia doctor
- Nurse anesthetist
We offer a pre-op playroom to help children feel less anxious before surgery. During this time, a Child Life specialist may be available to help your child understand what to expect. They might play and practice using medical equipment on a toy or share different ways to help your child feel more comfortable. For instance, they may discuss how to take calming breaths or think of happy things.
Before going to the operating room, the anesthesia team may give your child medicine to treat pain, nausea or anxiety.
After completing everything in pre-op and when the operating room is ready, your child will go to the operating room with the OR nurse and the anesthesia team. The anesthesia team will give your child special medicine through a clear mask or medicine in the IV so they sleep during the procedure. While your child is under anesthesia, the team will monitor your child’s heart and breathing using:
- EKG “stickers” on the chest
- Arm cuff to measure blood pressure
- Sticker on the finger called a “pulse oximeter” to measure breathing
When your child is in surgery, you will wait in a surgical waiting area on the second floor of the hospital where a television monitor will show when the procedure is complete. You may bring something to read to pass the time and the cafeteria is open for snacks and meals. If you have any questions or concerns in the waiting area, please pick up on the phone on the wall by the door to speak with our family coordinator.
Our team will bring your child to the post-anesthesia care unit, which is also known as the recovery room. The tracking board in the waiting room will show when your child moves to the recovery area.
Once in recovery, it takes about 30-60 minutes for your child to wake up. This varies by child and type of surgery.
Your child will be closely monitored by the recovery room nurse. There may be tubes or machines that beep and monitor your child and medicine is available to help keep your child comfortable.
Once your child wakes up, we will call for you. Two family members may come back to see the child at a time.
As you prepare to go home, a wheelchair will be available, if needed, to bring your child to your car.
If you have questions after going home, please call the surgeon’s office. The phone number is on the first page of your discharge instructions.
Care at Home
When the procedure is over, the doctor will meet with you to discuss care at home. This is the best time to ask questions.
Filling Your Child’s Prescriptions
After you see the surgeon, you can get your child’s prescriptions filled at our retail pharmacy on the first floor of the hospital just past the gift shop.