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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Important Pre-Surgery Instructions

Before your child's surgery, his or her surgeon will give you instructions concerning food and liquids. It is very important that you and your child follow these directions, so the surgery or procedure may proceed as planned.

On these instructions, you may see signs or notations stating "NPO." NPO stands for a Latin phrase, which means "nothing to eat or drink." If you fail to follow the NPO orders, your child's surgery will be cancelled.

Before the procedure, your child should visit his or her surgeon or physician in clinic for evaluation. At that time, you should bring a list or the bottles of all prescriptions or over-the-counter medications that your child is taking, as well as any vitamins or other supplements. You should discuss with the physician which medications should be stopped before surgery. These may include:

  • Medications that contain aspirin
  • Allergy medications
  • Medications for chronic conditions
  • Herbs and vitamins

On the day of your child's surgery, bring a written list of your child's current medications, how much of each medication your child takes, and how often he or she takes it. It is important to have this information on hand, even though your physician has reviewed your child's medications previously.

To reduce the chance of infection, be sure your child showers or bathes using an antimicrobial soap no more than 12 hours prior to his or her surgery. An appropriate product is available from the hospital. Please discuss this with your surgeon in clinic.

If your child develops a cold, fever, or other illness prior to his or her surgery or procedure, contact the surgeon's office. Your child's surgery may need to be rescheduled.

To assist children experiencing medical emergencies, we may need to delay or even cancel your child's surgery. In this event, your patience will be appreciated.