Gen Surg Pre-Op Instructions

General Pre-Op Instructions

If, after reviewing the information on this page, you have further question,s please be sure to discuss them with your child’s surgeon at the time of surgery.

Write your questions down and bring them with you on the day of the surgery, so that an important question will not be forgotten.

Our hope is that by reading this, you will know what to expect on the day of surgery and that the experience that you and your child have will be as pleasant as possible. 


We prefer not to prescribe narcotics (Codeine and Codeine derivatives) for minor surgeries. This is because of the frequent side effects such as nausea, vomiting and constipation which occur with these medications.

Instead, we recommend that patients purchase an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication. Recommended OTC pain medications include:

  • Ibuprofen (brand names: Motrin and Advil)
  • Acetaminophen (brand names: Tylenol and Tempra)

Dietary Preparation

Nausea is a common side effect following general anesthesia. Therefore, we recommend having a few easy-to-digest liquids and foods available at home.

Options for Infants
Easily digestible options for infants include Pedialyte and apple juice.

Options for Older Children
Options for older children include electrolyte drinks (Gatorade and Powerade).

If these are well tolerated and there is no vomiting, then popsicles and Jell-O can be added to the diet. As these foods are tolerated, the diet may first advance to milk and dairy products and then to light foods, such as crackers, rice, cereals and pastas.

Many children and their parents are concerned that the child will be hungry after having skipped breakfast before the procedure, but this is rarely the case. We recommend against promising to take your child to a special breakfast following the procedure. Instead, it is best to return home and slowly advance the diet. Nausea and vomiting are unpleasant side effects when they occur after abdominal surgery.

On the Morning of Surgery

Food and Liquids

Anesthesia causes total body relaxation, including relaxation of the protective stomach valves (sphincters). During anesthesia, any food or liquid in the stomach is able to easily travel up into the lungs, causing severe breathing problems.

Be sure to follow NPO (nothing by mouth) guidelines and make sure that siblings do not share their food with the patient.

Arriving at the Hospital

Plan to arrive at the hospital 90 minutes before the surgery start time. This allows time for paperwork (registration) and for the nurse to prepare your child for surgery. If you are late, you may lose your surgery appointment.

What to Expect

You can expect to be with your child during the entire preoperative phase, including the administration and onset of action of an oral sedative, called Versed. If your child sometimes refuses oral medications, we recommend calling the sedative “happy juice” to encourage the child to drink it.

The sedative is short acting and generally starts to work within 20-30 minutes. While some patients may become excited, 90 percent became relaxed and silly. The sedative also causes amnesia, meaning that, in many cases, they may not remember everything that happens after the medication starts to work. Not all patients receive sedatives, especially young infants.

The primary purpose of the sedative is for the relief of any nervousness (anxiety) prior to the surgery, as well as to minimize any fear that may occur once the child is separated from his or her parents and taken into the operating room (separation anxiety).

Please note that parents are not allowed into the operating room, which is where your child will fall completely asleep under general anesthesia.