Pediatric Heart Surgery FAQs

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Is it safe to give my child anesthesia?

There are a variety of ways to put your child to sleep for a surgical or other type of procedure. Our anesthesiologists will put together a plan that is specifically tailored to your child’s needs.

Usually, children are given some form of sedative to take by mouth (occasionally an injection is required), after which they are given additional anesthetic drugs that are inhaled through a mask or given through an intravenous line (which is placed after the child is sedated or completely unconscious).

To make the experience less traumatic for your child, the inhaled medications are candy- or fruit-scented to mask unpleasant odors. Your child will be allowed to choose the scent.

Where do parents wait during surgery?

When your child goes to the operating room, you will be shown to the family waiting area, located next to the operating room on the third floor of the main building. A surgical nurse who is in contact with the operating room will update you at all stages of surgery. When surgery is completed, the surgeon will meet with you in the family waiting area to discuss your child's operation.

How long will the surgery take?

The length of surgery depends on the complexity of your child's case, and your surgeon can estimate the amount of time that the surgery will take. Once surgery is completed and you have met with your child's surgeon, you may go to the parent room in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit until your child is settled in on the unit. This is usually about one hour after your child returns from the Operating Room.

Can my child eat before the surgery?

Because anesthesia relaxes the muscles that normally prevent food and drink from entering your lungs, adults undergoing anesthesia should refrain from eating or drinking solid foods or most liquids (other than water or clear juices) for at least eight hours before surgery. The pre-surgery eating schedule for infants and children is slightly different. Your surgeon or anesthesiologist will provide complete details.

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The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO