Taking the Scary Out of Pediatric Surgery

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Brevard County parents, rest assured that our pediatric surgery team at AdventHealth for Children Viera Specialty Clinic can help take the fear out of pediatric surgery if your little one needs a specialized procedure. 

Taking the Scary Out of Pediatric Surgery

We understand it can be stressful and overwhelming when a child needs surgery. We’re committed to making the experience as easy as it can be, with answers, guidance and an interdisciplinary care team experienced in performing specialized procedures. Every member of our highly trained pediatric surgery team — from the board-certified pediatric surgeons and pediatric specialists to our pediatric nurses — is focused on one goal: healing your child with care and compassion.

Pediatric Surgeon Raleigh Thompson, MD


Pediatric Surgeon Raleigh Thompson, MD, is one of the most experienced minimally invasive surgeons in the country, and he is the medical director for the Pediatric General Surgery Program at AdventHealth for Children. Here are some pediatric surgery tips from Dr. Thompson that can help improve your child’s experience. 


How Can I Help Ease My Child’s Fears Before Surgery?

Children can generally sense the anxiety or fear of their parents, so it’s important for you to best prepare yourself and not let your fears impact your child who is having surgery.

“Preparation, a good attitude, and making sure that you (as the parent) are looking forward to the surgery, can all make it a lot easier for the child,” says Dr. Thompson. 

Dr. Thompson also recommends sharing with your child if you had any surgeries yourself and any positive experiences you can talk about (it made you feel better, etc.). A child may feel more comfortable if they know it’s something their parent has already been through. 

Distraction can also be an effective method; you might try to get your child’s mind off the procedure by utilizing new toys, favorite books or screen time during appointments. 

Taking the Scary Out of Pediatric Surgery
What are the Major Differences Between Pediatric and Adult General Surgery?

“The biggest difference,” Dr. Thompson explains, “is that in pediatric surgery, the patient doesn’t usually understand the process before and after surgery, so our communication is largely with the parents.” 

Another major difference is that a lot of the diseases adults are treated for can be self-inflicted, whereas when it comes to a child, that’s rarely the case. 

“Bad luck and unfortunate genetic events make up most of the reasons for pediatric surgery, so we have to have a big catalog of symptom-knowledge since our pediatric patients can’t always describe exactly what’s going on.”

How Long Does My Child Need to Fast?

Especially with infants and toddlers, many parents are concerned about how long their child needs to go without food before having surgery. You may assume no food after midnight, but it differs depending on the type of surgery. 

Dr. Thompson shares that for a procedure using general anesthesia, heavy meals aren’t recommended within eight hours before surgery, but light meals are ok to have up to six hours before the surgery start time. 

“Formula and breast milk are fine up to six hours before and clear liquids are ok up to two hours before the surgery,” he says. 

What Should I Ask a Surgeon Before Surgery?

In addition to any special diet or fasting requirements, Dr. Thompson suggests making sure you speak to your child’s surgeon about any necessary skin preparations.

“Sometimes there’s a regimen for skin prep; for example, there’s an orthopedic surgery where the child will need a certain type of bath the night before and/or morning of the procedure.”

These preparations are important because they can reduce bacteria and the infection risk. 

It’s also important to talk about post-operative pain control to ensure your child has the right medication and treatment plan after surgery.

“Parents know their kids, so if he or she seems uncomfortable in the days after surgery, don’t be afraid to give them their prescribed pain medication,” says. Dr. Thompson. 

Pediatric General Surgery at AdventHealth for Children

AdventHealth for Children performs over 7,000 pediatric surgeries per year and “our team is experienced — they care a lot about making this a better experience for the children,” Dr. Thompson explains. To learn more about our pediatric general surgery services as well as our locations, visit: AdventHealthforChildren.com/Surgery  

AdventHealth for Children


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