A Road Map to Surgery at CHOC Children’s

Having surgery at a hospital can be a scary thought for children and parents, alike.  Knowing what to expect can help alleviate fear and anxiety.  The photos below highlight some key aspects of the patient and family journey through the Tidwell Procedure Center at CHOC Children’s Hospital.

surgery at choc

Welcome to CHOC Children’s Hospital – a hospital for children and teens, only. When a child requires surgery, his needs are different than an adult. CHOC has specialized in pediatric surgery since we welcomed our first patient in 1964. Today, our nationally recognized surgeons perform the latest procedures using equipment customized to pediatric patients, from newborns to adolescents.

surgery at choc

After checking in at our first floor lobby, surgical patients and their families are directed to our Tidwell Procedure Center, which includes seven operating rooms, five procedure rooms and two cardiac catheterization labs. The Center boasts leading-edge technology and safety features, as well as a calm, healing environment. Here’s the Center’s bright, colorful lobby, featuring natural light, bubble columns and interesting artwork. There’s also a family room and playroom.

surgery at choc

We want our patients and their siblings to still have the opportunity to act like kids while facing the adult issues of surgery. In addition to a playroom in the lobby, we have an area for play, stocked with books and toys in pre-op. Dedicated child life specialists help normalize the experience by making the environment less strange. Providing distraction and developmentally appropriate education, child life specialists are important members of the surgical team.

surgery at choc

Child life specialists are at the bedside to provide developmentally appropriate education. Patients are able to see pictures of the operating rooms on iPads, which helps to limit stress and anxiety without the use of medication.

surgery at choc

Before heading into the operating room, patients stop at what is affectionately called the “kissing spot.” Here’s where they can say “see you later” to their loved ones before “taking a nap” for surgery.

surgery at choc

Child life specialists escort patients into the operating rooms and to provide distraction and emotional support while pediatric anesthesiologists and other staff members prepare patients for surgery.

surgery at choc

Following surgery, patients recover in our PACU (post anesthesia care unit). As soon as the patient is stabilized, parents/legal guardians are escorted into the area. During this time, patients need as much rest as possible to help their bodies heal and give pain medication time to take effect. The environment is kept calm and quiet. From here, the patient will either be taken to a hospital room, or discharged home.

Our physicians, nurses and staff are dedicated to getting kids better and back to their normal activities as quickly as possible. Patients and families are our partners in this effort; knowing what to expect before, during and after surgery can make a big difference on the experience and recovery. For more information, visit www.choc.org/surgery.

Take a virtual tour of the Tidwell Procedure Center

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It’s All About Comfort in CHOC’s Fully Integrated Operating Rooms

A child life specialist and young boy interact in the main lobby of the Tidwell Procedure Center, on the third floor of the Bill Holmes Tower.
A child life specialist and young boy interact in the main lobby of the Tidwell Procedure Center at CHOC Children’s Hospital.

Comfort comes in many forms at CHOC Children’s, and not all of them involve a prescription pad. And that’s important because pain management is highly complex and must be individualized for each patient’s physical, developmental and emotional needs.

Did you know the same distraction techniques used to re-direct children’s behavior are often used to enhance our patients’ comfort? That’s why an engrossing game of Mario Kart or a visit from a friendly pet therapy dog may be just what the doctor ordered.

“Our goal is to keep our patients as comfortable as possible,” said Dr. Paul Yost, a pediatric anesthesiologist at CHOC. “And sometimes we can use distraction in a way that is much more beneficial to our patients than pain medication. Distraction and other non-medication techniques may allow patients to leave the hospital sooner, with less discomfort and fewer complications.”

At CHOC you will find state-of-the-art inpatient and outpatient surgical care provided within a compassionate, family centered, all-pediatric environment. Our pediatric anesthesiologists are experts in the many techniques that provide comfort, while promoting faster healing and recovery.

Additionally, CHOC offers pain management consultation for all patients around the clock. Our pain management team includes Dr. Hai Nguyen, a fellowship-trained pediatric pain management specialist, and Cheryl Deters, a nationally certified pediatric nurse practitioner.

One of seven operating rooms in the Tidwell Procedure Center.
One of seven operating rooms in the Tidwell Procedure Center.

“For a child, fear and anxiety equal pain,” Dr. Yost said. “The mind plays a very important part in how the body responds to comfort, so we work very hard to minimize fear.”

Using a multi-disciplinary approach, the pain management team works closely with CHOC Psychology, Child Life and other medical specialties. In addition to distraction, non-medication pain management techniques may include guided imagery, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, and art and music therapy.

“We have the skills and tools to help our patients cope, including many options that only a children’s hospital can provide,” Dr. Yost said. “Choosing to bring a child here is the most important decision a parent can make. We have the expertise to get our patients through situations as safely and comfortably as possible.”

To learn more about surgery services at CHOC, please click here.

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Surgical Services: Then and Now

Operating Room_lgIt’s been so much fun this past year to reflect on how CHOC has evolved since my first visit in 1964.

And I most certainly cannot forget the changes in surgical services, which CHOC has specialized in since its opening nearly 50 years ago.

CHOC has the latest surgical equipment, technology and techniques, including minimally invasive procedures and robotic surgery methods.

At CHOC’s Tidwell Procedure Center, fully-integrated operating rooms give surgeons full, wireless control of cameras and lights and the ability to view all of the room’s monitors and camera images, patient records and imaging reports on large, flat-screen displays as needed throughout the procedure.

Surgeons can also consult with other surgeons in other operating rooms and our hospital pathologists in real-time using video conferencing to discuss the surgery as it is happening.

Another big change since the hospital’s opening in 1964 has been the addition of child life specialists. These important CHOC staff members work with patients to help ease any fears and worries about a procedure, and to improve understanding of surgery through developmentally appropriate methods.

Surgery is scary for anyone of any age, but I know I would feel better knowing I was in CHOC’s care!


Surgical Services at CHOC Children’s specializes in providing patients — from infants to young adults — with the most state-of-the-art services in a compassionate, family-centered environment. CHOC’s experience in exclusively treating children, teens and young adults makes it the expert in pediatric surgery.


12 Questions to Ask Before a Child’s Surgery

questions_before_kids_surgeryWhen a child faces surgery, the procedure can be just as scary – or even scarier – for a parent.

The good news is that CHOC Children’s practices patient- and family-centered care, and works to ensure parents and patients are informed.

Parents with a child facing surgery should ask plenty of questions to learn as much as possible about their child’s surgery and post-operative care – and CHOC’s surgical services team is ready with answers.

“You have to do whatever you need to do so you feel like you are being a good parent,” says Dr. David Gibbs, a pediatric surgeon and president of CHOC’s medical staff.

Dr. Gibbs recommends that parents ask the following questions before a child’s surgery:

  1. How will this operation help my child?
  2. Is the surgery an inpatient or outpatient procedure?
  3. How long will my child need to be in the hospital?
  4. What type of incision will be used?
  5. What medications will he need?
  6. What are the risks of the surgery and the anesthesia?
  7. What type of post-surgery care will the child need afterward?
  8. How will my child’s pain be managed?
  9. When will my child be fully recovered?
  10. What limitations will my child have after surgery, and for how long?
  11. When can my child eat and drink after surgery?
  12. Is there anything else you think we need to know about this surgery?

Learn more about the Tidwell Procedure Center and surgery at CHOC.

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