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Pediatric Surgery

Anticipating surgery for a child can be an anxious time, but we feel certain that you and your child will be pleased with your experience at the Baystate Children's Hospital Surgery Center.

 Baystate Children's Hospital Surgery Center

Our well-equipped play space designed just for children and teens is filled with toys, video games, colorful images, an aquarium, and a lighthouse that doubles as an entertainment center.

Child life specialists-professionals who are skilled in assisting children and teenagers cope with hospitalization at their own developmental level-are available to help children and their parents. The surgery center also has its own admitting, waiting, and recovery rooms so children don't share spaces with adult patients.

The evening before surgery, one of our nurses will call you to provide pre-operative instructions, answer your questions, and offer support.

You can accompany your child/teen into the operating room on the day of surgery, and stay until they are asleep. The anesthesiologist will discuss this option with you in advance. You will rejoin your child in the recovery room, and can often be at the bedside before they first awake from anesthesia. The day after surgery, a nurse will call you to make sure the recovery process is going well and to answer any questions you may have.

 Types of Surgery

We provide comprehensive pediatric surgical care to infants, children, and adolescents, including:

  • State-of-the-art newborn surgery
  • Minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic and thoracoscopic)
  • Hernia surgery
  • Trauma surgery
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Endoscopic surgery
  • Oncology surgery 
  • Ovarian tumors
  • Testicular tumors
  • Thoracic surgery
  • Chest wall reconstructions for rib and sternal anomalies (pectus excavatum)
  • Soft tissue surgery
  • Head and neck surgery
  • Urologic surgery (including Deflux injections for ureteral reflux)
  • Varicocelectomy (laparoscopic and open)

 Inpatient Care at Baystate Children's Hospital

For children who require hospitalization after surgery, we offer a family-friendly environment at Baystate Children's Hospital, the only children's hospital in our region. Featuring separate, specially designed inpatient units for children and adolescents, the hospital offers play spaces, including our rooftop playdeck, that make a hospital stay a positive, non-threatening experience for children and families.

At Baystate Children's Hospital, we are especially proud of our committed child life specialists, who are available on the inpatient units as well as in the Surgery Center and Emergency Department.

For children requiring advanced monitoring and care after surgery, we have the region's only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, with its staff of specially trained intensive care pediatricians and nurses. Baystate Children's Hospital also offers the region's only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for premature babies and newborns requiring advanced monitoring.

Preparing Your Child for Surgery

When you find out your child needs surgery, you need to prepare the child for the experience.

Coming to the hospital may seem overwhelming, but the more informed you are, the easier it will be for both you and your child.First, prepare yourself. Then you can begin to begin to prepare your child.

Ask questions of your surgeon and the people who book the surgery:

  • Be sure you know what procedure will be done and why and how it will be done.
  • Be careful not to promise your child anything unless you are sure that is accurate.
  • Be sure to take care of yourself too!
  • Ask your family and friends for help if you need support.
  • Use hospital resources such as social workers and financial advisors
  • Sometimes a Baystate chaplain can help.

What You Can Do

Every child is different, so consider these tips when you prepare your child:

Provide age appropriate information ahead of time.Surprises can make the experience scarier, so it’s important that YOU have the correct information. Children will do better if they have been told in simple, honest terms:

  • What will happen
  • Where they will be
  • Where their parents will be

Choose your words carefully and avoid words that may intimidate your child. Think about your facial expressions and the tone of your voice. If children think you are anxious, it will add to their worry. Encourage your children to ask questions and talk about coming to the hospital. It will help them process the experience and ensure they don’t have misconceptions.

What to Expect in the Days Before Surgery

The registration department will call you a few days before your child’s surgery date to go over general information with you and verify name, address insurance information, and parent/guardian details.

One of the nurses from the pediatric surgical area will also call to give you information, such as:

  • Arrival times
  • Eating and drinking instructions
  • Driving and parking directions

If you plan to take a pre-operative tour of Baystate Children’s Hospital, sign up with Baystate Health Link at 413-794-2255 or toll-free at 1-800-377-HEALTH outside the Springfield calling area.

When communicating with your child about an upcoming hospital experience, use age appropriate terms and concepts to minimize intimidation and worry. We offer suggestions and tips for communicating with the following age groups. Continue by choosing the age group that is closest to your child:




Preparing Your Infant for Surgery

Concerns

Common fears for an infant having surgery can include:

  • Separation
  • Stranger anxiety
  • Stress caused by disruption of their regular daily eating and sleeping routines.
  • Anxiety passed on through their parents or caregivers.

What You Can Do

Stay calm around your infant - even if a child who is too young to understand the words you are saying about surgery will sense if you are stressed.

Bring favorite things like a pacifier, toys, blanket or other comfort items.

Although we have sippy cups and bottles, some children are more likely drink from their own.

Preparing Your Pre-Schooler for Surgery

Concerns

Many pre-school age children will worry about:

  • Feeling pain, needles, and the unknown.
  • What will happen because they don’t fully understand the things they have heard about going to the hospital.
  • Feeling that hospital experience is a punishment.
  • Being without parents.

What You Can Do

Most pre-school age children do best if you talk to them two to four days ahead of time. Choose gentle and simple words to describe what is going to happen and why it needs to be done.

Use word choices like:

“The doctor will take care of the bump on your arm so it won't hurt anymore."

rather than

"The doctor will cut off it off.”

Explain that they will be in special sleep when the doctor takes care of them so they will feel nothing. Be truthful in your information and encourage them to ask questions. Use dolls or stuffed animals and engage in interactive play with your child.

Read books together about going to the hospital.

Here is a list of books you and your toddler or pre-schooler may want to read about coming to this hospital. While they may be great ways to help your child learn about general things associated with a hospital experience, you will need to be careful about the specifics they may contain. Some things we do here at Baystate Children’s Hospital may differ from things described in these books. It may be best to get correct information from your surgeon or the nurses who will call you, or to sign up for the hospital tour program.

Katie Goes to the Hospital by Barbara Taylor Cork

A Visit to the Sesame Street Hospital by Deborah Hartzig

Franklin Goes to the Hospital by Sharon Jennings

This is a Hospital, Not a Zoo by Roberta Kaim

Going to the Hospital by Fred Rodgers

You and your child can also read this online picture book account of a little girl's surgery experience at Baystate Medical Center.

Reassure that you will be with them until they fall asleep and then again as soon as they are in the “wake-up room”. Allow the child to pick out a favorite blanket, stuffed animal or toy to bring to the hospital. Remember, the calmer you are about the experience the better your child will cope. The child will be watching you to see how you are responding to this new experience.

Preparing Your School-age Child for Surgery

Concerns

Your school age child may more fully understand what will happen, and because of this, will have more concerns and worries. They may worry about:

  • If a needle will be needed
  • Loss of control
  • Changes in the way their body will look
  • Waking up during surgery
  • Pain and even death

Having the correct information about what is going to happen will be very important at this age. It may be difficult for school-age children to cope well with surprises on this day.

What You Can Do

Prepare your school-age child about a week before surgery to allow time for them to process the information and then ask questions.

The Baystate Children’s Hospital Tour Program is a great way to help your child learn about the process of surgery in a calm and relaxed atmosphere. This will also give you the accurate information so you can answer any questions. We provide family-focused care, which means peace of mind for you and your child.

Most children will cope better knowing what surgery is going to happen and why it needs to be done. Your preparation should include the specific steps they will be going through.Use simple words that you are sure your child understands.

Include information, such as:

  • They will be in a special sleep during the surgery.
  • A parent will be with them as they fall asleep.
  • How they will get into that special sleep.
  • If there will be a bandage afterwards.
  • If they will be going home or sleeping over at the hospital.
  • Allow your child to ask questions.
  • Consider asking them to repeat back what you have told them and what will happen.
  • Give them choices whenever possible, picking a favorite toy or book to bring with them, or what flavor popsicle they want.
  • Read together books about going to the hospital.

Here is a list of books you and your school-age child may want to read about coming to this hospital. While they may be great ways to help your child learn about general things associated with a hospital experience, you will need to be careful about the specifics they may contain. Some of the things we do here at Baystate Children’s Hospital may differ from some of the things in these books. It may be best to get correct information from your surgeon, the nurses who will call you, or sign up for the hospital tour program.

Clifford Visits the Hospital by Norman Bridwell

Going to the Hospital by Anne Civardi

Tubes in My Ear: My Trip to the Hospital by Virginia Dooley

Good-bye Tonsils by Craig Hatkoff

Things to Know Before You Go to the Hospital by Lisa Ann Marsoli

Chris Gets Ear Tubes by Betty Pace

You and your child can also read this online picture book account of a little girl's surgery experience at Baystate Medical Center.

Preparing Your Teenager for Surgery

Concerns

Teens may have questions and concerns about anesthesia and how they will be able to stay “asleep” and not feel pain. Reassure them that the anesthesiologist is always with them and will give them continuous anesthesia until the surgery is over. Teens may worry about body-image and privacy. Reassure them that you and the hospital staff will do everything they can to respect their privacy. They may worry about needles and pain after surgery. Reassure them that in the recovery room there will be medicine available to help keep them comfortable, and, if necessary, ones to use at home.

Your surgeon’s office and the pre-operative nurses who will call you before the surgery will be able to answer specific questions. Encourage your teen to ask the staff their questions.

What Else You Can Do

Teens are more able to fully understand the process of what will be happening. It will be very important for them to understand what will happen and the long-term benefits (and any lingering effects) of the surgery. It will be important for them to take part in decision-making and any discussions that you will have with the surgeons and nursing staff. Encourage them to ask any questions that they may have to either you or to the medical staff.

Your teen may want to bring to the hospital familiar items such as a book, a handheld game, or a device for playing their favorite music. Some teens may find it helpful to record their thoughts and feelings in a journal.

Encourage them to prepare for the hospital experience by reading. Here is a list of books you and your teenager may want to read about coming to this hospital. While they may be great ways to help your child learn about general things associated with a hospital experience, you will need to be careful about the specifics they may contain. Some of the things we do here at Baystate Children’s Hospital may differ from some of the things in these books. It may be best to get correct information from your surgeon, the nurses who will call you, or sign up for the hospital tour program.

Prepare for Surgery/Heal Faster by Peggy Huddleston

Coping with a Hospital Stay by Sharon Carter and Judy Monnig

Hospital Smarts by Theodore Tyberg and Kenneth Rothaus

Helping Siblings Prepare for a Brother or Sister's Surgery

Concerns

Siblings may also worry when they don’t know what is happening.

They may think the worst if not given accurate, developmental appropriate information.

They may worry about the safety of their sibling.

They may also worry about any change to their own daily routines.

They may be jealous of the attention and extra time parents may spend with their sibling.

They may have misconceptions about why this hospitalization is happening.

They may worry that they may “catch” the same problem.

What You Can Do

Siblings need preparation, too. They may not know what is happening and have questions.

Prepare them with age-appropriate, honest information.

Reassure them that you’ve made plans for someone to care for their daily needs, including meals, rides to school and activities.

Maintain as much of their daily, familiar routine as possible.

Encourage them to read (or read with them) books about the hospital experience:

I Wish I Was Sick Too! by Franz Brandenbert

When Molly Was in the Hospital: A Book for Brothers and Sisters of Hospitalized Children by Debbie Duncan and Nina Ollikaien

My Brother Needs An Operation by A.M. Jawarski

The Hospital Book by James Howe

You and your child can also read this online picture book account of a little girl's surgery experience at Baystate Medical Center.