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Going to theatre



The 'theatre' is where you go to have your operation.  The hospital does hundreds of operations every year so there are very clear plans in place to make sure they all go well.

You can find out about the different parts of the day by clicking on the links below.

Before your operation



What time do I have to arrive?

If you are coming to hospital for an operation you might arrive the day before the operation and stay overnight if you need any final tests.  Otherwise, you'll probably arrive very early in the morning. 

Where do I go?

Your appointment letter will tell you which ward to go to but if we need to change this, a nurse called the clinical site manager will let you know. 

When you get to the ward, a nurse will welcome you and your parent or carer to the ward.  They will check all the information they have about you is correct, check your weight and height and see how you are feeling.  

The nurse who admits you will make sure all the information they have about you is correct and do some tests to check you are well enough to have the operation. 

Can I eat or drink before my operation?

You will need to make sure you don't eat or drink anything for a while before the operation, so the nurse will tell you when to do this.   

You might also meet the anaesthetist, who will give you some special medicine to help you sleep during the operation and will make sure you are OK while you are asleep.  You can get more information about this by clicking here.

The doctor who will be doing the operation may also come to see you - he or she is called the surgeon.

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Operation day

Will I be asleep?

On the day of your operation, you may be given some special medicine to help you relax. A tiny tube will be put into your hand so we can give you your special medicine to help you sleep during the operation. You can find out more about this by clicking here. When everything is ready, you, your parents or carer and a nurse will go down to the anaesthetic room to have your medicine.  Your parents or carers will be with you until you are asleep. 

When will I wake up?

When the operation is over, you will wake up in one of our recovery rooms or sometimes back on the ward.  A doctor or nurse will be with you and your parents or carers will be there for you.   

Will I notice a difference?

After some operations, you might not notice any difference at first.  If you've had a larger operation, you might still have a special tube in your nose or mouth to help you breath, or a special mask containing oxygen.  If you have had an operation on your heart, the doctor may attach some special wires to your chest to check it is working OK.  You may have a dressing, and sometimes there are tubes that help the fluid drain out.  These will be taken out after a few days.

Hopefully after a few days or weeks, you will find that you feel much better than you did before the operation.

Will I have a scar?

Some types of surgery only leaves a very tiny scar - this is called keyhole surgery.  Other sorts of surgery may leave a scar but it will heal and fade in time.

How will I feel?

You might feel a little strange after the anaesthetic and you will need to stay quiet for a little while to help your body recover.  The doctor will ask you about this and will make sure that you are feeling ok.  They will also check that you are not in any pain.

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After your operation

When can I go home?

If you have had a small operation, you might be well enough to go home the same day after you have had something to eat and drink.  If you need to stay a little longer, you will be able to move to one of the wards. The doctor will decide what is the best thing for you and will tell you about it.  You can ask them questions if there is anything that you need to know.

When can I eat and drink?

If you have had a small operation, you will usually be offered something to eat and drink once you get back to the ward.  If you have had a big operation, or an operation on your tummy or throat, you might need to wait a little longer.  The nurses will tell you when you can eat and will help you find something that you would like.

Will I need to take any medicine?

Sometimes you might need medicine to help if there is any pain while your wound is healing.  This might be tablets, liquid or sometimes through the tube in your arm.  Sometimes, you might still need some medication when you go home and the doctor will explain this to you.

Can I play and do things as normal after my operation?

This will depend on what sort of operation you have had.  You may be able to go back to all your normal activities after a day or two but the bigger the operation, the more time you might need to recover.  It also depends on the activity.  For example, if you've had an operation on your leg, it might be best not to play football for a while, but you can go to the cinema.  Your doctor will help you work out what will be OK for you to do and how to tell when it is safe to do more.

Will I have to come back to hospital?

Usually you will have a follow up appointment with the doctor a few weeks after your operation to check you are doing OK.  Sometimes this might be at your local hospital.  After some operations, you might need to come to see the physiotherapists or occupational therapists to help you with movement.


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