Pediatric Preoperative Assessment Program

Pediatric Preoperative Assessment Program

Preparing children for surgery

The Children's Health preoperative assessment program is the oldest pediatric day surgery program in the country. We help make sure that children are ready for surgery, so the surgery can go as well as possible.

Pediatric preoperative assessment is when your child is examined before – and then prepared for – surgery. The preoperative (pre-op) program at Children's Health℠ customizes each assessment for each patient. That way, the team can meet your child’s specific needs before, during and after surgery.

What to expect

Your child’s pre-op appointment will always include a physical examination and a discussion of your child’s medical history. Knowing your child’s complete medical history is important for your child’s care during and after surgery. Sometimes, your child’s care team will perform some testing before surgery, such as blood tests and imaging.

Our nurses have deep experience caring for patients with all types of conditions, from the most straightforward to the most complex. Our team of experts, including Child Life services, will help ease your child's fears and help you prepare your child for their surgery. This helps to ensure the best possible experience for you and your child.

Our team understands that it can be scary when your child is scheduled for surgery. We are here to listen to your concerns and answer all your questions. Your child's safety and comfort are our priority.

Preoperative and preanesthesia assessment

Preoperative assessment and testing are scheduled by the surgeon's office. Depending on your child’s needs and medical condition, their assessment may be scheduled for the same day as their surgery, or several days before their procedure.

Patients scheduled for a pre-op appointment are seen by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. You will talk about your child's medical history and a physical exam will be completed to ensure that your child is healthy and ready for surgery.

If your child’s procedure requires anesthesia, they will need a preanesthesia assessment. The purpose of a preanesthesia assessment is to make a plan of care that minimizes anesthesia risks but maximizes your child’s comfort during their procedure.

Before your child’s pre-op appointment

How to prepare

Two to three days before surgery, a surgery team member from Children’s Health will call you with additional details about your child’s surgery. This will include:

  • Arrival time
  • Specific instructions about what your child may eat or drink before surgery
  • Items to bring

During this call, please let us know if your child sees a cardiologist, pulmonologist, neurologist or endocrinologist. If you have not received a call from our staff 24 hours before your child’s surgery, please call your provider between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

What to bring

Please be prepared to bring all of your child’s medications (prescription and over-the-counter) with you to the preoperative assessment. Original bottles with dosages and times will help provide up-to-date information to the medical staff.

Preoperative testing

For children who are scheduled for a routine procedure, such as having their tonsils or adenoids removed, their preoperative assessment will likely just include a medical examination and a discussion of their health history. But, depending on how involved your child’s preoperative needs are, their assessment could take anywhere between half an hour to a few hours.

If your child has various complex medical needs, takes medications or is having a complicated procedure, they may need to have some testing done beforehand. Types of pediatric preoperative assessments may include:

  • Blood tests. There are many kinds of blood tests that may be performed during your child’s pre-op assessment. These tests will assess whether your child has any disorders, such as clotting problems, anemia or blood cancers. Blood tests can also help doctors understand the overall health of your child’s muscles, bones and organs better before surgery. If your child will need a blood transfusion after their surgery, their doctors will also use testing to determine what type of blood they have.
  • Heart tests. Echocardiograms (ECG) and electrocardiograms (ECC) are painless heart tests your child may need before surgery. They assess how well your child’s heart beats and will help your child’s care team make important decisions about how to medicate and operate on your child.
  • Lung tests. Pulmonary function tests (PFT) measure how well your child’s lungs are working. These tests are painless and can help your child’s surgical team anticipate any pre-existing medical issues during the procedure.
  • Imaging. X-rays, computed tomography scans (CT scans) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are all imaging tests that take pictures of your child’s tissues, organs and bones. Imaging tests help doctors see the health of your child’s body before operating on them. Sometimes, children may be sedated for imaging procedures since they require that your child remains still.

Often, we might find something during our preoperative or preanesthesia assessment that may not change how we treat your child that day but may involve seeing a physician after the procedure to follow-up.

Meet the Care Team

Medical procedures are scary and impactful for anyone, but especially for children. Our trusted experts specialize in making even the smallest children safe and comfortable during surgery.