FAQs: What to know before your child's surgery

Where will we go for the pre-op appointment?
How long will the appointment take?
What if I am late or I need to change the appointment?
What will happen at the pre-op appointment?
What else do I need to know ahead of time?
How should I prepare my child for the surgery?
What are the visiting hours at the Children’s Hospital? Can I stay overnight? Where else can I stay?


Where will I go for my child’s pre-op appointment?

You will be seen in Outpatient Clinic #2 in the Pediatric Specialty Clinic, on the ground floor of the North Carolina Children’s Hospital (part of UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill). Enter the N.C. Children's Hospital and turn right. Walk down the concourse until you see a check-in and waiting area under the escalator. We will send you a map to help you find your way.

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How long will the appointment take?

Be prepared to spend several hours here while we review your child’s history, physical examination, planned surgery, and preoperative care with you. We suggest that you have snacks available during your workup time, since the pre-op and pre-care visits sometimes take a while and can cut into mealtimes. A cafeteria and a coffee shop are nearby.
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If I am late or I need to change the appointment, what should I do?

If, for some reason, you are unable to come to the hospital for your child’s pre-care appointment, or you will be late, please call the Cardiothoracic Surgery office at (919) 966-3381 or (919) 966-1868 and let us know as soon as possible. BACK TO TOP

What will happen at the appointment?

When you arrive, you will be checked in and a member of the Cardiothoracic Surgery team will see you. That person will assess your child’s current health status and the surgery that is planned. You will then be directed to the Pre-Care office in the main hospital. There, your child will be seen by an anesthesiologist and will have X-Ray, EKG, and lab work done (you may be directed to the Children’s Radiology and Blood Drawing Lab to complete the work-up). Anesthesia will give you instructions on when your child will need to stop eating and/or drinking fluids, any special bathing instructions, time to arrive in the morning, and the like. 
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What else do I need to know ahead of time?

It is important for the patient to be as healthy as possible for surgery. The common childhood diseases such as colds, ear infections and chicken pox are usually not serious in themselves but often result in cancellation of elective surgery. Therefore, we recommend the following:

For two or three weeks prior to admission, patients should avoid contact with people who are obviously ill. Good hygiene at home (including hand washing) may help prevent the spread of infectious disease among family members.

Despite these precautions, some patients become ill. The family physician or pediatrician can help manage these illnesses. If there is any question about the advisability of the cardiac surgery, please call our office (or have the pediatrician call us) at 919-966-3381. We may have to cancel surgery and reschedule for a later date.

Any medications regularly taken by the patient should be brought to the hospital. This will assist the nurses and physicians in continuing these medications until surgery. Once the patient is admitted to the nursing unit, the nurses will be responsible for administering the medications to the patient.
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How should I prepare my child for the surgery?

Preparation of young patients is a common concern for parents. The best approach is an honest but brief discussion that focuses on where the child is going, and why. We have recreational therapists who do a wonderful job of “pre-op” teaching with the children and it does help relieve their anxiety about this strange new place. If there is a special blanket, doll, book, or music that would make your child feel more comfortable in these new surroundings, please label them and bring them with you. The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) has CD/tape players and video players for your use while you're here.
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What are the visiting hours? Can I stay overnight with my child in the hospital? Where else can I stay?

The PICU staff understands your concerns and has made the visiting times in the unit very lenient. You can stay with your child all day except during shift change (7-8 a.m. and 7-8 p.m.) and when they are having a procedure. One parent may sleep in the unit, but it is advisable to make plans for other accommodations.

A Ronald McDonald House referral may have already been set up by our scheduler. You will have to call the House after 1 p.m. on your pre-op clinic visit to check on room availability. If you are staying at the Ronald McDonald House, we suggest using their shuttle. Parking at the Hospital can be expensive. We recommend that you buy the book of discount parking tickets offered at the Cashier’s desk in the Main Hospital lobby.

Families of hospital patients also can get reduced rates at some Chapel Hill motels. The scheduler can give you this information. 
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We hope this information is helpful and we look forward to seeing you and your child. Please feel free to call (919) 966-3381 or (919) 966-1868 with any questions or concerns. If you have questions, our office is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thank you for choosing UNC for your child’s care.

Karla Brown, CPNP
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner