Absolutely Q&A Pediatric Surgery

Texas Children’s West Campus Experts Answering Your Most Common Pediatric Surgery Questions

Dr. Ruben Rodriquez

From repairing hernias, taking out an appendix or conducting circumcisions, most pediatric surgeries are relatively standard but differ vastly from adult surgeries. While parents realize that these types of surgeries are necessary to ensure their child’s health and development, the idea of surgery can still be frightening for both parents and children. Dr. Ruben Rodriguez from Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus answers some of the most common pediatric surgery questions.

Located at I-10 and Barker Cypress, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus houses the only 24/7 pediatric emergency room in the Greater West Houston area, four surgical suites and a minor procedure room, inpatient services and advanced imaging services including MRI and CT scans. www.westcampus.texaschildrens.org

Expert: Dr. Ruben Rodriguez, pediatric surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

What are the most common types of pediatric surgeries?

Appendectomies are by far the most common emergency pediatric abdominal operations performed. Texas Children’s performs more than 1,000 appendectomies a year. Other common emergency pediatric surgeries are procedures to drain abscesses and pyloromyotomies, an operation to relieve the overgrowth of the stomach muscle commonly found in infants 3-to 6-weeks old. Common elective surgeries include circumcisions and hernia repairs.

Q: What can I do to help my child prepare for their surgery?
t’s important to ask questions and work with your medical team to ensure you feel confident and reassured about the surgery your child will undergo as children take most of their cues on how to react to tense situations from their parents.

You should also take advantage of any services offered that will help your child better prepare for and understand what they will be going through. For example, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus has dedicated child life specialists who form a bond with pediatric patients while preparing them for surgery. Our child life specialists take children into a mock operating room where we can simulate what they will see, hear and smell in the room. The child life team tries to make the process as predictable for your child as possible on the day of their actual surgery so the team not only talks to your child at an age appropriate level and explains what will happen before and after their surgery, but also how they will feel when they wake up.

Child life specialists also help parents talk to their children about surgery since parents may struggle with knowing what to say and what not to say. These specialists can help you choose the most appropriate words to describe the surgery and hospital visit.

Q: How does anesthesia work, and is it safe for children?
General anesthesia will render a child into an unconscious state where they are pain free, unaware of their surroundings and have no recollection of what has happened during surgery. Because general anesthesia also has effects on a child’s breathing, heart and blood pressure, the board certified pediatric anesthesiologist will be there to continually monitor your child throughout their surgery.

Our teams do their best to provide an “ouch-less” environment for children and most children go to sleep before starting an intravenous anesthesia. One of the unique things at Texas Children’s is that we offer patients scents in their anesthesia masks. Instead of smelling plastic or gas, children can choose to smell bubble gum, cotton candy, apples or any of the many scents offered. Our team of registered nurses, hospitalists and surgeons also focus on the management of your child’s post operative pain as well.

Q:  Is it true that children recover faster than adults?
Yes. Generally speaking, children recover from surgeries better than adults because they typically are healthier before the surgery. Additionally, kids are resilient and adapt better to changes in their bodies.

Q: What is the most important element of treating children?
t’s important for pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists to remember that children are vastly different from adults. Everything from their anatomy to their psyche is still developing and differs from child to child. For this reason, pediatric surgeons and anesthesiologists are much more accustomed to being able to adapt to the individual patient and treat them in a manner conducive with their precise size, medical history, age and tolerance.

Communication is also an important element. Building trust with patients and their families is important when explaining procedures to them while anticipating and mitigating their fears. It’s important to be able to read, comprehend and respond to non-verbal cues from various age groups as well since we treat infants, toddlers and young children in addition to adolescents and teenagers.

Q: What if my child needs a major surgery?
Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus is equipped and staffed to handle a myriad of medical needs; however, for those patients requiring highly specialized care or intensive critical care, such as organ transplantation, they will be referred to Texas Children’s medical center campus for treatment. Texas Children’s Department of Surgery is nationally recognized and our board-certified surgeons are pioneers in the field of pediatric surgery and continue to change the lives of countless children and families.

If you have questions, or would like to schedule a surgery consult, please call the pediatric surgery clinic at 832-227-2250 or visit westcampus.texaschildrens.org.