doctor examining a child in a hospital

It can be scary and overwhelming to learn that your child needs surgery. It is my hope that in this guide for surgery I can provide you with a better understanding of the problem, what can be done, as well as what to expect for your child.

Basic Guide for Surgery

The Steps I Take:

Paediatric Anaesthesia:

Many parents are anxious about their children undergoing an anaesthetic. While anaesthetic is necessary for any surgical procedure, I endeavour to work with the best team possible to make your child’s surgery safe. I work with a hand-picked team of dedicated anaesthetists who take special interest in the care of children, and who make it their priority to provide your child with a safe anaesthetic, as well as to make their theatre experience as pleasant and non-traumatising as possible.


Specialist Support:

Complications can and sometimes do occur during surgery, thus it is important that I work with a team of specialists who can care for your child should such an emergency arise. My theatre staff are comfortable and excited to work with children, I have the support of wonderful paediatricians, as well as great paediatric wards to send the children to post-operatively. All of this allows your child to have a non-threatening hospital experience.


The Steps You Can Take:

Learn about your child’s condition and the planned operation:

Knowledge is the first step in allaying fear, therefore learn about your child’s condition, as well as the type of surgery that is planned. This is both for your benefit as the parents, as well as for the benefit of the child, as you would need to explain to the child what will be happening.

Please remember that although young, children do have an understanding of what is happening around them, therefore please explain to your child in a manner that they understand. Things that you should explain to them include:

  • They will need to have an operation to make them feel better
  • This might mean that they need to spend a night (perhaps a few nights) in hospital
  • They are going to sleep during the operation
  • The doctors and the nurses will do everything in their power to ensure that they do not have pain after the operation
  • How long the recovery time will be after the operation (this will depend on the type of operation)
  • If the child is old enough, they should write down and bring questions that they may want answered prior to their surgery.


Know What to Expect on the day of Surgery:

Most elective (meaning not an emergency) paediatric surgical procedures are day procedures. This means that you and your child come to the hospital early in the morning (6:30-7:00) to be admitted, and then get discharged in the afternoon once your child has woken up from the anaesthesia and is doing well. It is advisable to pack some spare clothes and some toiletries in case you need to stay the night as sometimes your child may need a little bit more time to recover from the anaesthetic.

To give your child a safe anaesthetic; means that your child has to come with an empty tummy before the operation. This can be very distressing for both parents and children (and sometimes even the staff!), however we need to ensure that your child has a safe operation. If your child’s tummy is full of food, after the anaesthetic is given, the food can reflux into the food pipe and get sucked into the lungs. This is very dangerous for your child, and can cause your child to be very sick or even die. If your child does have food or drink before the operation, his/her surgery can be postponed or even cancelled, as the risk to your child would be too great to your child.

The guidelines from the American Association of Anaesthesia states:

Solid food and formula milk: last feed 6 hours before surgery
Breastmilk: 4 hours before surgery
Clear fluids (black tea with sugar, sugar water, apple juice): up to 2 hour before surgery

If you are unsure please contact our rooms to clarify times, as well as how much clear fluid can be taken.

Surgical Bear guide for surgery

Make Sure Your Questions are Answered:

Your questions should have been answered during your pre-operative session with the doctor, however if you think of something after the appointment, please do not hesitate to email your query to or to contact the office during office hours on (021) 000-2353, and your question will be addressed by the doctor.

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