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Preparing for limb surgery

Preparing for limb surgery

Patient in hospital bed giving a thumb's up to nurse before surgery

Thank you for choosing Shriners Hospitals for Children – St. Louis to take care of your child and family. Your child's well-being and comfort is our top priority. 

Male patient preparing for surgeryHospitalization can be a stressful time. The unknown of the hospital environment can be frightening. By helping your child prepare, you can make the hospital experience a positive one. Your feelings about hospitalization can affect your child’s emotions and behaviors, so remember to speak positively around your child when discussing the upcoming stay.

Honesty is important to your child. Answer questions openly and honestly, but keep it general and don’t promise anything. It’s appropriate to tell your child that you do not know the answer to a question. In these situations, you can let your child know that you will check with their care team to get them information. A child life staff member, including our certified therapeutic recreation specialists, may be available to help your child understand his or her upcoming visit.

Familiarity visit

Before surgery, patients and families will come to the hospital for a familiarity visit. This special visit is designed to help parents and children feel comfortable with and prepared for their upcoming surgery. The familiarity visit typically lasts about four hours and may incorporate the following:

  • An assessment by a nurse practitioner and your child's physician.
  • A visit to our radiology department for X-rays.
  • A visit to our patient photography studio for photos to be taken of your child's affected limb. Gait videos may also be ordered so your doctor can assess your child's gait.
  • A visit from one of our social workers who will discuss family lodging while your child is in the hospital, as well as financial resources available through our local Shriners chapter.
  • A demonstration by our recreational therapy/child life specialists to familiarize your family with what you can expect during surgery, such as what the oxygen mask will look like.
  • An assessment of your child's physical strength by one of our physical or occupational therapists.
  • A viewing for your entire famil,y of our hospital pre-operation/surgery video. (You can also watch it below)

The lengthening and straightening process requires a great deal of commitment and responsibility from the entire family. The familiarity visit helps ensure everyone is prepared and ready for this process. We use this visit to get to know each patient and further study his/her condition to ensure that surgery is the best solution and that timing is ideal for surgical intervention.

J. Eric Gordon, M.D., Mark Miller, M.D., and Perry Schoenecker, M.D., your attending surgeons, and Jill Hahn, your care coordinator, work closely with each patient and their family to make sure all questions are answered.

Recreational therapy and child life

The recreational therapy and child life (RT/CL) department is available to help provide therapeutic activities and distraction for patients undergoing a limb lengthening or reconstruction procedure. Recreational therapists and child life specialists are on hand to provide a pre-op education class for each patient and their family to help prepare for surgery. Help with pain management is available, as well as various programs to help patients during their hospital stay.

Table and chairs Play area

Preparing for Surgery – video

Will you be having surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis? The following video will help you learn about what you can expect.