The Day of Your Child's Surgery

Philadelphia Campus Travel Advisories

Please allow for extra travel time to your appointments due to road closures and traffic congestion caused by multiple construction projects around CHOP and Penn, including the full closure of the Wood Center, long-term traffic pattern changes on University Ave., and more. Please check traffic before you go to see if there are any additional closures or impacts in the area, and refer here for the latest updates on parking at CHOP’s Philadelphia Campus.

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, visit our driving directions page to get customized directions.

If your child is having surgery at the Main Hospital, Surgery is located on the 4th floor of the Hospitals Main Building. When you arrive, please look for signs for the Main Hospital Parking/Parking A. You will receive a parking ticket as you enter Main Hospital / Parking A. Please be sure to bring this with you, as we can validate this ticket for a discounted rate. You will take the Glass Elevators from the garage to the first floor of the Main Hospital. Once you arrive on the first floor, head to the right to check in at the Welcome Desk. You will be directed to an elevator and to go straight up to Floor 4.  Follow signs to Surgery Check-In M450.

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. Find addresses and directions for our surgery centers.

Checking in

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.

Anesthesia pre-op exam room with family 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.

During surgery

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 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.

Next Steps