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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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The day of the operation

By the time your child's operation day arrives, you should have seen all of the members of the team, who will have hopefully answered your questions and explained what the operation involves.

Don't worry if you still have some questions, as the surgeon and anaesthetist will see you in the morning, before coming to theatre, so you can ask then.

You will have been given starving instructions for your child, as there is a planned time for their operation to start. Before you come to theatre, we will check that your child hasn't developed any coughs and colds overnight, apply the 'magic cream' if this has been agreed, and give any medicines that your child needs.

All of this happens in Theatre Direct Admissions (TDA) on Robin's Ward, Level 1 of the Children's Hospital.

Whilst this is going on, everything is being prepared for the operation; checking that all of the theatre team are ready, equipment available, blood tests completed and that a bed is available for your child in the Paediatric High Dependency Unit.

We will only call for you to bring your child to the anaesthetic room once these things are in place. Sometimes there is a delay, but we will let you know if this is the case, and review the starving instructions if we can.

We normally allow only one parent or carer in the anaesthetic room for safety reasons, and this will have been discussed and agreed with you in advance.

Once you and your child get to the anaesthetic room, you will be asked lots of questions as part of the pre-operative check. We will then begin the anaesthetic as agreed, either by putting in the cannula or using the mask. Once your child is lightly sleeping, you will be asked to leave and return to the ward with the person who brought you to the anaesthetic room.

The surgical operation usually takes three to four hours, but your child will be away from you for most of the day. This is because, once your child is asleep, time is spent preparing them for their operation. We are not able to give you a 'running commentary' of how things are going during the day.

Once the surgery has finished we will start the wake-up process. Normally at this stage the surgeon will come and find you or call you to give you an update. When your child is stable, the anaesthetist will transfer him/her to the recovery unit next to the theatre. The wake up process will continue here and we will be monitoring you child very closely, making sure that he/she is comfortable, awake and stable.

After about 30 minutes to one hour we will transfer your child to the Paediatric High Dependency Unit, and, following a brief settling in period and handover, reunite you with your child at their bedside.

Under normal circumstances we would expect your child to spend the night on the Paediatric High Dependency Unit, and then be transferred back to Robin's Ward the following day.