Frequently Asked Questions

Call 911 if your child is having an emergency or go to the nearest emergency room.

The below information is not specific medical advice for your child. Always talk with your child’s doctor or other healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the care or health of your child.



What is the best way to tell my child about his surgery?
The best way to talk to your child about surgery is to be open and honest. The team will help you explain the surgery to your child. They specialize in talking with children in a way that is right for their age.

How do I know what to expect?
We have several teaching sheets for children of all ages to help parents explain their surgery. Visit the links below to download Tips for Preparing Your Child for Surgery. If you have more questions about your child’s surgery after reading the teaching sheets, call and schedule a pre-operation tour. These are done on an individual basis.

Children’s at Egleston

Children’s at Scottish Rite

Children’s Healthcare at Meridian Mark Plaza
Questions or to schedule a tour—404-785-5615

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Outpatient Surgery at Satellite Boulevard
Questions or to schedule a tour—404-785-8000

Preparing your child for surgery

What time is my child’s surgery?
Your child’s surgery may be scheduled weeks in advance, but we will not know the official time until one or two days before the surgery. Patients’ appointments are chosen based on:

  • Child’s age
  • Type of surgery
  • Child’s special needs (some children’s conditions mean they must be the first case of the day)

Once schedule is done, we will call and let you know:

  • Your child’s appointment time 
  • When your child needs to arrive at the hospital
  • Special instructions, such as when your child must stop eating and drinking

If my child cannot eat or drink before their surgery, what can he have?
Your child may have:

  • Apple juice
  • Jell-O
  • Popsicles, without fruit

If your child is a baby, you will be given special instructions.

Your child should avoid:

  • Chicken broth
  • Fruit Popsicles
  • Juices, such as orange juice

No solid food is allowed after midnight the night before surgery—even formula, milk and orange juice are considered solid foods. If clear liquids are allowed the day of surgery, most children can have Popsicle for breakfast.

Before the surgery, we will give you a time after which no food or drinks are allowed.

What do I do if my child wakes up sick the morning of surgery?
If your child wakes up with fever, nausea or is vomiting, or has coughing and congestion that develops in the night, contact the location where your child is having his surgery:

• Children’s at Egleston—404-785-6712
• Children’s at Scottish Rite—404-785-2054
• Children’s Healthcare at Meridian Mark—404-785-5615
• Children’s Healthcare at Satellite Boulevard—404-785-8134

Are side effects from the anesthesia (sleep medicine)?
Depending on your child’s age, side effects will change. After surgery, your child may be restless and confused. Nausea also is a common side effect, and he may need medicine to control it. Your child’s doctor and the nurse will develop a plan to control any pain after the surgery. If your child had nausea after surgery in the past or tends to have sensitive stomach, tell the anesthesiologist.

Is there a difference between anesthesia for children and adults?
Yes, children react differently to anesthesia. That is why we have pediatric anesthesiologists who are trained to give this medicine to children. The doctor will give anesthesia based on the child’s weight, vital signs and medical history. It is important that the doctor gets an exact medical history so he can give the anesthesia correctly.

What are the signs of an infection at the incision (the opening created for surgery) site?
Follow the surgeon’s instructions for keeping the incision site clean and dry to lessen the risk of an infection. Common signs of an infection are:

  • Drainage
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

Your child also will usually have a fever if the incision is infected. If your child has any of these signs after surgery, contact your child’s surgeon.

How will I know the incision site is infected?
Your child’s nurse will teach you the signs of infection, as well as give you written instructions. It is OK if the site is a little sore and red. Call your child’s surgeon if you have any concerns.

What should I do if the incision site is infected?
Call your child’s surgeon right away.

Should I limit my child’s activities after surgery?
Inside, quiet play is fine. Movies, crafts and light cooking activities are some of the best. Encourage your child to plan activities after the surgery, this will give him a sense of control.

Your child’s doctor and nurse will give you with specific guidelines about the right activity level, depending on your child’s surgery. Most children need a day of rest with quiet activities. Many children who have minor surgeries are back to their normal activities within a day. Other children who have more major surgeries may be in the hospital during their recovery.