Surgery Guide :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Surgery Guide

If your child is scheduled for surgery, you certainly will have many questions. That's why we've described the process for you, and given you ways to help your child understand what is going to happen. We know you want the absolute best for your child. Be assured that every aspect of the care we deliver focuses on the highest quality clinical services and safety, while addressing the unique emotional needs of your child.

Surgery Tours

View our tours and share them with your child so you both know what to expect before you arrive. If you don't know the surgery location, ask your referring physician or check your surgery guide if you've been given one.

Would you like a personal tour for you and your family? We offer tours for our Main Campus Surgery Center (Outpatient), Main OR (Inpatient and Outpatient) and Westerville Surgery Center (Outpatient). The appointment includes a tour, a time to explore medical equipment and a question and answer time for your family. To request a tour of the Main Campus Surgery Center (Outpatient) or the Westerville Surgery Center (Outpatient), call (614) 722-2929 or complete our Surgery Tour Request Form. To request a tour of the Main OR (Inpatient and Outpatient), call (614) 722-3642 or complete our Surgery Tour Request Form.

Need directions on how to get here and where to park? Check out our main campus map, directions and parking information.

When your child is having a procedure that requires general anesthesia or sedation, it's important to follow these instructions. 

What Is a Pediatric Anesthesiologist? Explaining Sedation To Your Kids.


Your child's outpatient surgery may be scheduled at either the Children's Surgery Center or the Outpatient Surgery area, both located on Children’s main campus. Where your child's surgery takes place is determined by several factors including your child's surgeon and the specific procedure your child is having. Expect a call from our staff the day before your scheduled surgery to confirm the location, time and other important information. The staff will let you know when to arrive and how long you should plan to be here. If someone from Children's has not contacted you by 4 p.m. the day before your child's scheduled surgery date (by Friday for Monday surgeries), please call Children's Surgery Center at (614) 722-2920 or Children's Outpatient Surgery at (614) 722-5200.


General Information
Children's Outpatient Surgery     (614) 722-5200
Children's Surgery Center          (614) 722-2920

Billing Information
Children's Outpatient Surgery     (614) 722-2055
Children's Surgery Center          (614) 722-2055

Other Information
Pre-Admission Testing                (614) 722-3850
Welcome Walk Appointments      (614) 722-2929


It is very important to be honest with children of any age and to answer any questions they may have.

Children 3 and under

At this age children generally cannot understand why they need surgery or why they are going to the hospital.  At this age they are concerned with having a change in their environment and being away from family and their home.  Toddlers may have trouble coping with changes in routine, such as eating sleeping and toileting.

Suggestions:  You or a family member can help your child by being with them at the hospital.  It is important to bring familiar items from home to the hospital, such as a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or pillow.

Children 3-6 years

Children at this age may view the hospital as punishment, may have feelings of loss of control and fear of the unknown.

Suggestions: Reassure your child that he/she has not done anything wrong.  Make sure you give your child simple, honest and developmentally appropriate explanations.  At this age it is also important to bring a comfort item from home.

Children 7-12 years

At this age children may fear painful procedure and may also believe that hospitalization and procedures are a form of punishment.  At this age children may feel a loss of control and a lack of independence.

Suggestions: Provide your child with as much information as you can.  Ask staff, whenever possible, to let your child know what is going to happen and provide step by step information during procedures or environmental changes etc.  To help your child gain control, give them choices when possible.

Adolescents 12 and up

At this age adolescents are concerns about having loss of control, being separated from peers and may be self-conscious.

Suggestions: Respect your child’s privacy whenever possible.  Encourage your child to ask questions and make sure they are involved in their medical care.  Support social interactions with peers.

Parents and Caregivers

The hospital is stressful for the whole family.  Make sure you have support where needed and get questions answered.  Your feeling of unknown, anxiety and fear can reflect on your child.  Staff is always willing to help where needed to make sure you and your child have the best experience possible.


When your child is having a procedure that requires general anesthesia or sedation, it's important to follow the instructions in the video below:

What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia gives a person freedom from pain during surgery. There are two types of anesthesia. A "general" anesthetic is a deep sleep caused by drugs given to the whole body. A "local" anesthetic just numbs a particular part of the body.

Who gives anesthesia?
All general anesthetics are given by members of the Anesthesia Department. The permanent staff consists of physicians (anesthesiologists) specializing in anesthesia for children, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), who act under the direct supervision of the anesthesiologists. In addition, resident physicians and registered nurses rotate through the department while receiving direct instruction in pediatric anesthesia.

Will my child get a shot before surgery?
Probably not. At the present time, sedation (medicine for relaxation) is usually given before surgery in the form of a liquid to swallow, rather than by a shot or injection; however, there are some exceptions.

How is the anesthesia given?
Anesthesia is given to your child by asking them to inhale non-irritating medicated air through a mask placed near his or her nose and mouth. This is called “induction.” Your child may choose a "flavor" (scent) for the mask. After three or four minutes, your child will be asleep. We have found that larger children or teenagers generally prefer to have the anesthesia (called sodium pentothal) injected in their hand or arm, while smaller children do well with the inhaled air. When appropriate, we try to accommodate any patient who has a strong preference for one type of anesthesia over the other.

Where does my child wake up?
Your child will wake from surgery in the Main Recovery Room of Children's Hospital or the Surgery Center Recovery Room, depending on where surgery has been scheduled. In either area, nurses who are trained in this phase of surgery will provide specialized care. An anesthesiologist is always available. As soon as your child is awake, a nurse will come get you.

Will my child be nauseated afterward? Are there any problems I should expect?
A small percentage of patients will be nauseated or vomit after surgery. Children having eye surgery or tonsillectomies are more prone to have this problem. Medication is available if the nausea persists.

If a breathing tube was inserted in your child’s throat during surgery, s/he may have a sore throat or hoarseness for a few days. Intravenous lines are placed in almost all children after they are asleep, and there may be a puncture mark or bruise where the needle was removed.

Will I be able to talk with an anesthesiologist?
Yes. An anesthesiologist reviews the pre-operative assessment with you prior to surgery, discusses the anesthesia and answers any of your questions. If you have concerns about your child's anesthesia and would like to speak to an anesthesiologist prior to the day of surgery, you may contact the Children's Surgery Center at (614) 722-2920 or Children's Pre-Admission Testing at (614) 722-3850.


When you arrive, our staff will ask you to complete a brief medical history. A few simple lab tests may be performed if not previously completed. An anesthesiologist will meet with you to discuss anesthesia and answer any questions.

Pre-surgery instructions
To prepare for your child's surgery, please review the following pre-surgery checklist.

  • Notify your surgeon if your child develops either a chest cold or fever; has been treated for asthma, bronchitis or pneumonia in the past six weeks; or has been exposed to a contagious disease such as measles, chicken pox or mumps within three weeks before the surgery date. Based on the information you provide, you will then be advised whether or not to bring your child to the hospital for the scheduled surgery.

  • Your child will be restricted on what s/he eats or drinks prior to surgery. Specific instructions will be given on the day prior to the scheduled surgery. If food, gum or any beverage other than water, apple juice or breast milk is given to your child within four hours of surgery, the operation may be canceled.

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany the patient to the Surgery Center or Children's Outpatient Surgery area on the day of surgery. Your proof of insurance must be presented at the time of admission.

  • Please bring all medical insurance information, such as medical cards and completed insurance forms. You are responsible for being aware of, and in compliance with, your insurance policy requirements and/or regulations.

  • We are eager to help you receive your maximum allowable benefits, and will be happy to process your insurance claim for you. However, we may need your assistance to communicate information to your insurance company. If you have any questions or uncertainty regarding insurance coverage or billing practices, please call Children’s Outpatient Surgery Billing at (614) 722-2550 or Children’s Surgery Center Billing at (614) 722-2923.

  • Before and after surgery, with clearance from the Children's staff, two adults may visit your child.

  • Children under the age of 12 may not visit. Please make child care arrangements for your other children under 12 years of age. If your child is admitted, young children may be allowed to visit.

  • Young adults, age 18 or older, scheduled for outpatient surgery must arrange for a designated driver to take them home after surgery.

  • We encourage you to bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket to help make the surroundings a bit more familiar. Please label these items with your child's name.


Your child will recover under the care of specially trained nurses. The anesthesiologist will continue to monitor your child's condition. If you child is having any pain after surgery, the anesthesiologist will decide on pain medication. This may include intramuscular (given by shot) and intravenous (given through the IV) pain relievers or a nerve block with a long-acting local anesthetic. As soon as your child is awake, he or she will be brought back to you. The nurses will answer any questions and give you step-by-step verbal and written instructions as ordered by your surgeon.

If you have any difficulty after you arrive home, call your surgeon, Children's Surgery Center or Children's Outpatient Surgery.

Behavioral changes after surgery
Children handle the hospital experience in a variety of ways. These are some things that your child may or may not experience:

  • Your child’s behavior may regress, or look like behavior from an earlier age.

  • Some children may have trouble with separation and become more dependent on adults.

  • Sleeping and eating patterns may change. Remember, these changes are common and temporary. If you have concerns, please talk to your doctor.


Nationwide Children's has developed a family-oriented surgery brochure. Designed for the family who has a child scheduled for surgery, this brochure will answer many of your questions, provide age-appropriate tips for your child, and give driving directions and contact information. In the back pocket of the surgery brochure we’ve included a second brochure created especially for your child. It explains in simple, easy-to-understand language what the child will experience, and includes information about our Surgery Tour, which is designed to put both patients and parents at ease. For a copy of the surgery brochure, call (614) 722-2929. You may also request a Surgery Tour.

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000