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Going to theatre

What to expect when going to and returning from theatre

We understand that having a child admitted to hospital for surgery can be a frightening and stressful time and we hope the following information helps you and your child prepare for the trip to theatre.


For patients undergoing surgery, the fasting time may vary, depending on the type of anaesthetic to be administered to your child. Before admission to hospital, you will be advised when to commence your child’s fasting.

If fasting instructions are not followed, the procedure may have to be postponed in the interest of your child’s safety.

If you have not been giving fasting instructions, please contact the surgeon or anaesthetist (if this is known).

Going to theatre

  • Your child may be asked to put on a theatre gown. If this causes distress your child can stay in street clothes and a gown will be sent to theatre with them. If your child has a special toy or comforter these can also be taken to theatre.
  • The anaesthetist may order pre-medication for your child which will be administered before leaving the children’s centre.
  • Your child will be taken to theatre on a bed, a trolley, in a wheelchair or in a cot, by a theatre orderly. It is expected you will travel with your child to the theatre waiting area
  • In the waiting area, another nurse will ask you similar questions to those asked on the ward. Throughout your stay, you may be asked the same questions several times, such as “does your child have any allergies?” This is to ensure important information is correct and accurately documented
  • One parent is welcome to escort their child into the operating theatre and stay with them while they go to sleep. You will then be shown to a waiting room
  • A nurse will take you into the recovery room as your child is waking up. The general aim is that you are the last person your child sees before they go to sleep and the first person they see when they wake up
  • The surgeon will either see you in the waiting room or in the recovery room after the procedure
  • Your child will be in the recovery room for as long as it takes to wake up and have their pain and any other issues managed. Once stable, you and your child will return to the Children’s Centre.

Returning to the Children’s Centre

When you return to the Children’s Centre you may expect that:
  • Your child will be closely monitored with frequent observations recorded and dressings regularly checked by nursing staff
  • Your child may be drowsy following the anaesthetic and this can take some time to wear off
  • Your child will have an intravenous drip to provide fluids for a period of time after theatre
  • Once digestion returns to normal, clear liquids such as ice chips, water or an icy-pole will be given, then gradually a soft, light diet will be introduced 
  • Initially, your child may experience a little nausea and may vomit, but this is normal and should soon resolve
  • The nurses will administer regular analgesia (pain relief) to ensure your child is as pain free as possible. We aim to keep the pain at a level where they are comfortable and settled. It is important that you and, if possible, your child, take an active role in assessing and reporting pain to the nurse so that effective measures can be taken.