How your doctor can prepare your child for surgery
Ravindra Vegunta, MD, is a pediatric surgeon at Cardon Children's Medical Center In Mesa. For more information on this topic, please consult with your doctor or call Dr. Vegunta's office at 480-412-9400.
Question: My six-year-old daughter is having elective surgery to correct a minor birth defect in a few weeks. Our family is anxious about the procedure. How will our doctor help us prepare?
Answer: A surgical procedure of any type can be stressful to a family, and especially when the patient is a child. Anxieties can range from coordinating work and care schedules among parents and family members, to concerns over pain from the surgery and the child's recovery.
Pediatric surgeons are specially trained to function in a hospital setting dedicated to children and can help families prepare for the surgical procedure. The surgical team and the children's hospital staff work one-on-one with the family to review important details, including anesthesia options, food and drink restrictions prior to and following surgery, limitations to activity, bathing and wound care, and more.
The pediatric surgeon will also take special care to ensure that nothing painful happens to the child until after he or she is under anesthesia and cannot feel anything. The child often gets to select the anesthesia mask and even the scent of the medication provided through the mask.
Most importantly, the surgical team will invite a child life specialist to meet with the family. Child life specialists are an extremely valuable part of any children's hospital, as they provide a bridge between the child and the clinical setting. They help the child understand what will happen in age-appropriate terms and bring tremendous comfort to the family.