When it's finally time for your child's surgery, you and your child — as well as the rest of the family — may be nervous and fearful. Knowing what to expect can help you deal with the anxiety everyone is feeling. Here's an overview of what will happen throughout the day.
Directions, parking and arrival
If you need directions to Children's Hospital (or to one of our surgery centers), you can enter your starting address into our Get Driving Directions box on the right and get customized directions.
If your child is having surgery at the Main Hospital, surgery is located on the 4th floor of the Hospital’s Main Building. Please park in the Wood Center Garage located off of Civic Center Boulevard. A security officer will be at the parking garage entrance if you have any questions. Take the Wood Center elevators to the 3rd floor and follow the signs to Surgery Reception.
Please note: the 3rd floor of the Wood Center and the 4th floor of the Hospital’s Main Building are on the same level. Once you arrive at Surgery Reception you will be on the 4th floor of the Main Hospital building.
If you enter through the Main Hospital entrance, please stop at the Information Desk located just inside the entrance. Information Desk staff will direct you to Surgery reception.
If your child is having surgery at one of our Ambulatory Surgery Centers, the reception desk at each center is located just inside the entrance.
When you get to the surgery reception area, check in with the desk staff. After you check in, you and your child will be escorted to an exam room. Everything will be explained to you and your child before it happens.
In the exam room, your child will change into hospital pajamas. If you brought your child's own pajamas, she may be able to put them on after surgery. The nurse will take her vital signs, including temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen level. The nurse will also listen to your child's breathing and get an update on her health status, including any medicines or illnesses.
After this, you and your child will return to the registration area for various play activities until it's time to go to the operating room. Please don't eat or drink in the preoperative area.
Before your child goes to the operating room, you will meet the anesthesiologist to review the anesthesia plan. You and your child can ask questions and express any concerns at this time. For more information about anesthesia and its effects, visit our About Anesthesia page.
Just before going into the operating room, your child will get a medicine (we sometimes refer to it as "giggle juice") to help him relax. It can make him giggly, sleepy and unsteady, so once he's taken this medicine, he may not walk around, because he may fall and get hurt.
Remember, a parent or legal guardian needs to be with the child throughout the day of surgery, so we ask that you not leave the hospital or surgery center during your child's stay, even while she's in surgery.
We'll show you where to wait during your child's surgery. Please stay in this area, because your child's surgeon will look for you there when the surgery is over. While you're waiting, a nurse will stop in periodically to give you an update on your child.
We will make every effort to reunite you with your child as soon as possible after surgery.
After the operation, your child will go to the recovery room, also called the Post-anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), a special room for children who are waking up from surgery and anesthesia. You'll be taken to this room to be with your child after he awakens. For safety reasons, only two adults may stay with your child in the PACU at a time.
For more information about what to expect after your child's surgery, please visit Recovery After Surgery.