Prepare for Surgery at Children's Hospital Oakland



Prepare for Surgery at Oakland

Thank you for choosing UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland for your child’s surgical procedure. Our board-certified physicians and nurse practitioners, and pediatric-trained nurses and technicians devote 100% of their medical practice to caring for children—providing the safest care possible in a child-friendly environment.

Getting Started

To make your child’s surgical procedure and recovery go smoothly, it’s important for you and your child to be prepared. You will receive a call from a nurse to confirm the time and date of the procedure, review your child’s medical history, and provide you with eating/drinking, medication, and bathing instructions for the day of surgery.

Depending on the type of procedure, you may also be asked to meet with an anesthesia nurse practitioner in the Preview Clinic.

The Preview Clinic

Some patients with special medical considerations will have a Preview Clinic appointment a day or two before their scheduled surgery. Please bring the following to your appointment:

  • The patient
  • A list of all the medicines your child takes, including times and dosages
  • The results of tests your child has had at any other hospital or clinic, especially heart or lung diagnostic testing (e.g., EKG, stress test, echocardiogram, pulmonary function tests, etc.)
  • A copy of the surgical, anesthesia, cardiac, pulmonary, endocrine, and neurology records of your child if he/she has received care from an outside facility.
The Preview Clinic visit is an essential part of providing medical care for your child. Please be on time for your appointment. If you are late, every effort will be made to see and evaluate your child. However, depending on the complexity of the surgery, late arrivals may result in rescheduling your preview appointment and possibly rescheduling surgery.

If you can’t make the appointment, are running late, or need to reschedule please phone: (510)428-3340

Child Life Services

We recognize that your child and family might be anxious or simply have questions about surgery and anesthesia. You can make an appointment with a child life specialist who will provide age-appropriate support after the Preview Clinic and/or on the day of surgery. This may include role-playing all parts of the anesthesia and surgery experience with you and your child.

To make an appointment with a child life specialist, phone: (510)-428-3444

Important Instructions for the Night Before Surgery

Please have your child take a shower or bath the night before surgery. Wash your child’s hair with shampoo and his/her body with soap. Do not use conditioner, any hair products, lotions, or deodorants. Follow the specific instructions given to you by the nurse or nurse practitioner regarding eating/drinking times, medications and bathing instructions.

Follow the specific instructions given to you by the nurse or nurse practitioner regarding eating/drinking times, medications and bathing instructions. To make sure your child has an empty stomach, please follow these guidelines:

  • No solid food or cow’s milk 8 hours prior to surgery.
  • If your child is less than 12 months, they can breastfeed up to 4 hours before the procedure and/or have formula up to 6 hours before surgery.
  • Clear liquids may be given up to 2 hours before surgery. If you cannot see through the liquid it is not clear. The only approved liquids are clear apple juice, Pedialyte, 7-Up or water.
  • Absolutely nothing in the mouth not even chewing gum, ice chips or hard candy, for 2 hours before surgery.
  • Follow the food restrictions for your child starting the night before surgery.
  • Bring your child’s favorite blanket, toy, doll, or book on surgery day.
  • Bring insurance information, guardianship papers and the “History and Physical” form.
  • Check if your child should take medications on the day of surgery.
  • Arrive at least an hour before the scheduled operation.
  • Do not bring other children to the hospital on the day of the surgery.
  • The legal guardian must remain at Children’s surgery center throughout the child’s stay.

Day of Surgery

Depending on the surgery, you will be asked to arrive one hour or 1½ hour before the surgery’s scheduled start time to allow time for the registration process and preparation time with the child life specialist.

  • To help your child on the day of surgery, please bring his/her special toy, doll, book, or blanket.
  • Please check in at the Surgery registration desk located on the 3rd floor of the Outpatient Center (building located next to the parking structure).
  • A registration clerk will help you with your paperwork. Please bring your medical insurance cards.
  • If you are not your child’s birth parents, please bring documentation of guardianship (court orders or adoption papers).
  • Give us any completed “History and Physical” form filled out by your primary care provider or surgeon that should have been completed within the last 24 hours.
  • The patient’s legal guardian or responsible caretaker must remain in the hospital during the patient’s procedure. We understand that you know your child better than anyone else, and we want you involved in every aspect of their care.
  • Please do not bring other children with you. We encourage you to make alternate child care arrangements so that the child having surgery will have your full attention. If this is not possible, please bring another adult to supervise, as additional children are not allowed in the recovery room.
  • All female patients older than 10 years or who have already started their menstrual cycle are required to give a urine sample. Please have your daughter pee in any clean container you have at home (Tupperware or glass jar) when she wakes up in the morning. Be sure to bring the urine to the hospital with you.

Next Steps:

  • Help your child put on a hospital gown or pajamas.
  • Meet with the child life specialist.
  • If your child is anxious or scared, we may give him/her a pre-medication that will help him/her relax.
  • Meet with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist to discuss the procedure and anesthesia, and answer any questions that you may have.


  • The anesthesiologist will help your child go to sleep in the induction room or the operating room.
  • Some children may have their parents with them as they fall asleep.
  • For safety reasons, some children will go to sleep in the operating room without a parent present.
The anesthesiologist will decide on the safest way for your child to go to sleep.
  • Most children go to sleep by breathing into a mask that resembles one worn by jet pilots or astronauts.
  • The air your child breaths will make him/her feel silly and giggly inside. Within seconds, your child will feel very, very sleepy. As sleep deepens, some children go through an “excitement” phase and wiggle around. Your child will not remember this period.
  • Sometimes we need to start an IV to help your child fall asleep.

During the operation, an anesthesiologist will monitor your child carefully to make sure that your child will feel no pain.

In the Recovery Room

After the operation, your child will go into the recovery room, which is often called the “wake-up room.” A maximum of two adult visitors (parents or guardians) are allowed in the recovery room. Children are not allowed in the recovery room; please bring another adult to supervise them while they wait in the waiting room.

During this time, the recovery nurse will go over specific discharge instructions if your child is going home that day.

Children vary in their reactions to anesthesia. Many children wake up groggy but comfortable. Others may wake up crying because they are confused.

Our specially trained pediatric recovery room nurse will closely monitor your child during this time to keep your child as peaceful and comfortable as possible.

Where To Go:

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland
Outpatient Center
744 52nd Street, 3rd Floor
Oakland, CA 94609
Phone: (510) 428-3340

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Prepare for Surgery at Children's Hospital Oakland