When kids and teens need surgery, the procedure can be:
urgent or emergency surgery: These are surgeries done for urgent,
possibly life-threatening medical conditions, such as a serious injuries from an accident,
or acute appendicitis.
elective surgery: These are procedures that patients need, but
they don't have to be done right away. Calling a surgery "elective" might make it
sound optional, but that's not always so. An elective procedure is planned in advance,
unlike an emergency surgery.
What Are Common Elective Surgeries?
A wide range of surgical procedures can be elective, such as:
While these surgeries done "electively," they're often important and potentially
life-changing operations. Some are "same-day" surgeries that don't need a hospital
stay. Kids can go home the same day after a brief recovery period. For other surgeries,
kids might need to stay in the hospital overnight or for a little longer.
What Should I Do if My Child Needs Elective Surgery?
Elective surgery means you and the doctor decide (elect) when it will happen. So
you have time to plan ahead.
If your child is scheduled for elective surgery, the care team will give you instructions
about how to prepare and what to expect. If you have any questions, be sure to ask.
You'll want to know:
Should my child avoid any activities or foods before surgery? How many hours before
the operation should my child stop eating and drinking?
Does my child need to take any special medicines before surgery?
Should my child stop taking any medicines or vitamins?
How soon should we follow up with you after surgery?
After talking with the surgeon and getting your questions answered, you'll sign
forms giving your permission for the surgery. This is called "informed
consent." It means that you understand what's involved with the surgical procedure
and agree to it.
You'll want to get answers on insurance
too. As soon as you know your child needs surgery, call your insurance company. Find
out if you need to get a second opinion from another health care provider before they
will approve the surgery.
Your insurance company might require you to use in-network providers. If so, be
Your child's surgeon is in-network.
The anesthesiologist (the fee for anesthesia usually is separate from the cost
of the surgery) is in-network.
Hospital stays and prescriptions, if needed, are covered. Is there a co-pay?
If needed, you can make a payment plan.
What if the Surgery Is Delayed Because of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
During the coronavirus
(COVID-19) pandemic, some states banned elective surgeries. This helped save scarce
personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care providers. They need it to care
for sick patients and to do emergency procedures.
As restrictions ease, some health care systems are using a ratings score to decide
which surgeries to do first when rescheduling. The ratings consider things like:
how effective non-surgical treatment options are
how not having the surgery might affect the patient
which surgeries might use a lot of the hospital's supplies and other resources
which patients are least likely to need an overnight hospital stay
If your child's procedure is delayed, ask what might help in the meantime. For
example, physical therapy, braces and wraps, and anti-inflammatory medicines might
help kids with sports
Reassure your child that the delay is temporary. As soon as they can, doctors and
hospitals will reschedule elective surgeries for the people who need them.