The following is a list of questions your child may ask. We've included some general answers to them. The information you receive from your child's doctor can help you be more specific.

Why must I have an operation? Can't they do something else instead? Usually, surgery is done because the problem won't get better by itself. Or, sometimes the other things that have been tried don't help.

Why do I have to go to the hospital/surgical center instead of the doctor's office? There are several reasons: the procedure takes more than just a few minutes, the doctor needs special equipment and a special place, and anesthesia can only be done in the hospital.

What is anesthesia? A special medicine that allows you not to feel anything during the surgery. You'll feel so comfortable that you'll want to drift off to sleep. It's given by a specially trained doctor known as an anesthesiologist.

Why can't I eat before we go to the hospital/surgical center? You might have an upset stomach after the surgery if you eat beforehand.

How long will it take? This varies with the procedure, so ask your child's doctor. Usually one to two hours are required for out-patient surgery, depending on your child's recovery time.

What will happen when I get to the hospital/surgical center? On arrival, you will meet many members of your child's surgical team - other physicians, nurses, technicians - and they will lead you through registration, the waiting area, operating room, recovery, and, finally, going home.

Why can't you go with me into the operating room? Only doctors and nurses in special clothing are allowed there. Parents are always close by.

Where will you be while I'm there? How will you know when the surgery is over? During surgery, parents usually stay in the waiting area nearby. The recovery nurse and surgeon will get your parents after the operation is done. (It is often helpful to have an accompanying spouse, friend or relative come along. Also, it is best not to bring other children so that the focus remains on the child having surgery.)

When the surgery is done, will you be able to be with me and hold my hand? Absolutely. When you wake up, the nurses will be there with you and very soon thereafter Mom/Dad will see you. The recovery room nurse will try to make you comfortable, and we will be together until you are ready to leave.

Will I be able to take "Fluffy" (or whatever your child's favorite toy or doll is named) with me? "Fluffy" can go with us to the hospital. He can't go into the operating room, but he'll be right there waiting for you when you wake up.

Will I have to stay in the hospital? Probably not, but if you do, Mom or Dad can stay with you, so don't worry about it now.