Pediatric Surgery: What to Expect

If your child needs pediatric surgery, it can be a scary time for the whole family. Our pediatric inpatient and outpatient surgery facilities are designed “Just for Kids” to help put everyone at ease.

Understanding what to expect before, during and after your child’s surgery can help relieve everyone’s worries. Norton Children’s offers pediatric surgery at Norton Children’s Hospital, Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Medical Center.

Pre-admission Testing

Sometimes, a pre-admission testing appointment is needed before surgery. This appointment is designed to provide your child’s pediatric surgeon, pediatric anesthesiologist and other medical professionals with information they’ll use to provide customized surgical care. The surgeon will determine if your child needs pre-admission tests. If required, the office staff will schedule and provide that information to you.

Pre-admission testing also can save you time and reduce distractions on the morning of your child’s surgery.

Not all children need pre-admission testing. Often a phone call with a nurse to review your child’s medications and medical history is all you’ll need to do. If only a phone call is necessary, a nurse practitioner or nurse clinician will give you a call.

Hospital or Medical Center Tour 

Norton Children’s child life specialists offer tours for you and your child to help take the mystery out of surgery. Child life specialists are trained and experienced in providing emotional support and education to help children and their families understand their medical care.

The Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation funds all child life services.

Child-friendly tours include the surgical services area to help you and your child feel more comfortable on surgery day. To schedule a tour, call one of our child life/expressive therapy departments.


To make the registration process quicker and easier, we encourage you to preregister your child. The hospital registrar will call seven days prior to and again 1-2 days before your child’s scheduled surgery. This will be a chance to make sure all your information is up to date. When you are preregistered, you will have more time to focus on your child when you arrive for surgery. Pre-registration can be done through your child’s Norton MyChart account if you have set up proxy access.

Day Before Surgery

A nurse will call 24-48 hours before your child’s surgery to confirm your arrival time and answer any questions you may have.

Feeding Instructions

No eating! No drinking! No kidding!

For your child’s safety while under anesthesia, it is very important you follow these feeding instructions. Eating or drinking the wrong foods before surgery could cause cancelation or delay of your child’s operation.

  • Your child may have clear liquids, formula and/or breast milk the day of surgery, but only for a limited time. See the chart below for when to stop feeding. Clear liquids include water, sugar water, Pedialyte, Gatorade, apple juice and Sprite.
  • Solid foods, which include gum, candy and mints, cannot be given before surgery. See the chart below for timing:
Newborn to 5 months6 months to 36 monthsOver 36 months
Stop feeding your child solid food, gum, candy, mints and milk4 hours before your scheduled arrival6 hours before your scheduled arrival8 hours before your scheduled arrival
Stop giving your child formula4 hours before your scheduled arrival6 hours before your scheduled arrival8 hours before your scheduled arrival
Discontinue breast milk4 hours before your scheduled arrival6 hours before your scheduled arrival
Stop giving your child clear liquids (water, sugar water, Pedialyte, Gatorade, apple juice, Sprite, etc.)2 hours before your scheduled arrival2 hours before your scheduled arrival2 hours before your scheduled arrival

If Your Child May Be Ill

Call the office of your child’s surgeon right away if your child:

  • Develops a cough or chest cold
  • Is running a fever
  • Has been treated for asthma, bronchitis, RSV, flu or pneumonia within six weeks before the scheduled surgery
  • Has been exposed to chickenpox up to 21 days before the surgery date and hasn’t been vaccinated or had chickenpox.
  • Has been exposed to a contagious disease, such as COVID-19, measles or mumps, within three weeks before the surgery date
  • Develops vomiting, diarrhea or nausea

If you cannot reach the surgeon’s staff, you may call the facility where your child’s surgery is scheduled at the numbers below.

Day of Surgery

  • Follow all medication instructions given by your physician and pre-admission team. Take medications on the morning of surgery with only a sip of water or other clear liquid, if instructed to do so. If your child needs something a little thicker to swallow pills, you may use honey or gelatin.
  • If your child is taking an ACE inhibitor or ARA (captopril, enalapril, benazepril), do not give the medication within 24 hours before surgery.
  • Give any regular breathing treatment before arriving at the hospital.
  • If your child is having an outpatient procedure, be prepared to spend the day at the hospital. Most children may go home earlier. This is a case-by-case basis. Each child is different with recovery time. Also, there could be delays due to emergencies and your child’s case may be postponed or delayed.
  • After surgery, your child will need your attention. This includes the drive home. Arrange to have another adult ride with you.

We want to provide you with the best possible care. While you are here, please share any concerns you may have with the surgical services staff.

What to Bring to the Hospital

  • Insurance cards, medical cards and photo ID.
  • If you are not the parent of the child, you must bring court-appointed guardianship/custody papers. Without guardianship/custody papers, we will not be able to perform your child’s scheduled surgery.
  • A list of your child’s current medications and vitamins, including dosages, when they take it and how often. Include any creams, ointments and sprays your child uses. Bring any emergency medications your child is prescribed, such as an EpiPen or rescue inhaler.
  • Containers for eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and dentures; leave valuables, such as jewelry, at home.
  • Your child’s favorite toy, stuffed animal, cellphone, charger, handheld gaming system, pacifier or anything else you think the child may want for comfort. If your child has a special something that helps comfort them, please feel free to bring it with you.i.e. blanket, favorite book, etc.
  • Dress your child in loose, comfortable clothing that can be removed easily. If your child is getting a cast, bring clothing that will fit over the cast.
  • An extra change of clothes.

Check-in and Registration

Once you arrive at the hospital or medical center, check in at the welcome desk, where you will be given a visitor pass and directions to the registration desk.

A parent or legal guardian must accompany the child to the registration desk. Our staff will make copies of your insurance card, photo ID and any needed custody/legal guardianship documents. If you do not bring these legal documents, your child’s surgery may be canceled or delayed until you can obtain the documents. The staff will then place two ID bracelets on your child. Parent or visitor name tags must be worn by family members and visitors at all times.

After registration, you will be taken to a private room in the surgery preoperative area, where seating is available for two immediate family members. You will remain there with your child until it is time for the surgery. Board-certified pediatric anesthesiologists, pediatric nurses and your child’s pediatric surgeons will prepare your child and answer your questions. Medication may be given to help relax your child before surgery.

During Surgery

When your child is taken into the operating room, you will be asked to wait in the surgical services waiting area. The surgeon will talk with you after the surgery. One parent or guardian should remain in the waiting area at all times to be available to talk with the pediatric surgeon. The surgical services and registration staff will be happy to assist you if you have questions or would like an update on your child’s condition.

After Surgery


After surgery, your child will stay in the pediatric phase 1 recovery room (post anesthesia care unit) until they wake up and show stable vital signs. Then the anesthesiologist will release them from the unit.

If your child will be going home the day of surgery, they will be brought to the phase 2 recovery area until they are discharged. Each private postoperative room has seating for two immediate family members.

The nurses follow the surgeon’s orders and review any special instructions to be followed at home. We encourage you to ask questions.

After you and your child leave the hospital, you may receive a questionnaire asking for information about your child’s stay. We hope you will take time to complete the survey and tell us how we are doing.


After your child’s surgery is scheduled, attempts will be made to verify your insurance coverage and copayment. It is your responsibility to make the copayment. There are many different kinds of insurance coverage, and some plans cover more than others. You may want to check with your insurance company regarding the coverage provided by your individual plan.

If your insurance company requires a copayment or deductible, we will ask for your payment at the time of registration.

Most bills are submitted to your insurance company for payment. Our registration staff will ask you for your insurance information. If for some reason we are unable to submit claims to your insurance company for you, we will inform you immediately. If this happens, we will offer you information about available payment plans to make the process as easy as possible.

If you do not have insurance, we will make arrangements with our financial counselors for you to discuss payment options, which may include Medicaid and/or charitable financial assistance. We accept all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover), cash and check. We also have other payment options, including monthly programs, which our financial counselors can discuss with you at your request.

At Norton Healthcare and Norton Children’s, families with income equal to or less than 350% of the federal poverty level may be eligible for financial assistance. This expansion of eligibility makes financial assistance available to more middle-income families and individuals in our community.

Your child’s hospital bill will include a surgical services charge based on the length of stay, charges for supplies and charges for any tests performed. Fees charged by pediatric surgeons, anesthesiologists or any other physician for interpretation of test results will be billed separately.

If you have billing questions before you come to the hospital, call one of our financial counselors

Financial Counseling

Call (502) 629-8474 or (502) 629-8281.

Cynthia Downard, M.D.

Why choose
Norton Children’s Surgery

“The patient and family are at the center of everything we do. We are committed to quality, safety and providing the best surgical outcomes for the tiniest of babies to young adults.”

Cynthia D. Downard, M.D.
Director, Pediatric General Surgery
Norton Children’s Surgery, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine
Hirikati S. Nagaraj, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery

CARES Pledge

Learn more about how you and your child’s health care providers are Caring Altogether in a Respectful Environment reassuring Safety for all.

The CARES Pledge

Visitor Policy

Get details on who can visit and when.

Visitor Details

While You Wait

You can have food delivered to any of our facilities. There also are dine-in options nearby.

Food Options

Surgery Locations

Norton Children’s Hospital

The Norton Children’s Hospital parking garage is located at 214 Abraham Flexner Way between Floyd and Brook streets. It is attached to the back of Norton Children’s Hospital. Open parking spots generally are available on the fifth floor and higher.

Free parking for one vehicle per child is available in the Norton Children’s Hospital parking garage. Other visitors may park in the garage for a small fee.

Parking daily rates:

0 to 0.5 hour – $1

0.5 to 1 hour – $2

1 to 2 hours – $3

2 to 3 hours – $4

3 to 4 hours – $5

4 to 5 hours – $6

5 to 24 hours – $7

Lost ticket – $7

Once you have parked, enter the hospital from the first floor of the garage. You will be greeted at the welcome desk, then proceed to the eighth floor for registration and surgery.

Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital

Free valet parking is available at the main entrance of the hospital or the Norton Medical Plaza 2 parking garage. After parking in the garage, take the elevator to the first floor for access to Norton Medical Plaza 2 and the hospital.

Norton Children’s Medical Center

Free surface parking is available around Norton Children’s Medical Center.

The board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians at Norton Children’s Surgery perform common procedures, such as appendectomies and hernia repairs, along with complex surgeries in children ranging from the tiniest babies to young adults.
Norton Children’s Surgery specialists care for injured children as part of the region’s only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center.
Our pediatric surgeons see patients at the Novak Center for Children’s Health in downtown Louisville and perform surgery at Norton Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville, Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital in St. Matthews and Norton Children’s Medical Center on the campus of Norton Brownsboro Hospital.
Performing about 4,500 procedures a year, our surgeons have deep experience in a broad range of treatments.
Norton Children’s Hospital is the only verified Level I Children’s Surgery Center by the American College of Surgeons Children’s Surgery Verification Quality Improvement Program in Kentucky or Southern Indiana.
Our specialists are at the forefront of minimally invasive pediatric surgery techniques that allow for less anesthesia during the procedure, less pain and a faster recovery.
Our team works with board-certified pediatric anesthesiologists who specialize in delivering the right types of sedation in correct amounts to make sure your child is comfortable and safe during a test, procedure or operation.
Keep up with your child’s health, communicate with your provider and schedule appointments through MyNortonChart.

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