Your Child Needs Surgery ... Now What?

September 17, 2019
Child hugging a teddy bear in a hospital bed

Pediatric surgeons like Cristina Metildi, MD, diagnose, treat and manage a wide range of children’s surgical needs, including everything from certain birth defects to trauma injuries and beyond. Dr. Metildi shares her insights on what to expect before, during and after your child’s surgery.

Q: My child needs to see a pediatric surgeon. What happens now?

Be prepared to discuss your child’s condition and medical history. Bring a list of all medical problems, prior surgeries and hospitalizations, and current medications. If next steps include surgery, you should be informed of the risks, benefits and potential complications, as well as the expected course and the likelihood of postoperative admission to the hospital. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Q: What steps should I take prior to my child’s surgery?

You’ll receive your expected arrival time and a reminder to review the registration process. I strongly encourage parents to ask questions about insurance coverage and expected copays prior to the day of surgery. You will also be notified when to stop feeding your child to ensure as safe a surgery as possible. Call the office if your child has had any change in health (such as a sore throat, cough, fever or wheezing). Certain conditions would require postponing the surgery. Finally, arrive on time the day of surgery to avoid delay or cancellation.

Q: How can I best prepare my child for an upcoming surgery?

Address any anxiety your child may have before you enter the hospital. That may require more conversations with the surgeon. It’s important for the parent not to appear overly anxious. If the option exists, it always helps to pre-register at the hospital prior to surgery rather than the day of surgery. Have your questions on insurance coverage and co-pays answered beforehand. The office staff can often provide helpful information.

Q: What typically happens after the operation?

After the operation, the surgeon will discuss what was done and what to expect. You will be given instructions regarding allowed activity level, any necessary restrictions, and how to care for your child postoperatively in terms of bathing and showering, wound care and pain control. You will also be provided with a number to call should you have questions or concerns and to schedule a follow-up appointment with the surgeon.

Get to Know Dr. Metildi

Very early in life, Dr. Metildi knew she was going to follow in her surgeon father’s footsteps. She chose to specialize in pediatric surgery because it allows her to take care of a wide range of conditions while helping to improve the lives of young people.

“It’s so gratifying to gain the trust of a child who feels poorly but is willing to take a chance on you,” she says. “Children are so appreciative. It’s rewarding to see that smile appear when they feel better.”

Dr. Metildi was a double major and two-sport athlete at the University of Chicago. She next attended Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, followed by a General Surgery residency at University of California San Diego where she extended her training to pick up a Master of Advanced Studies in Clinical Research along the way. Her Pediatric Surgery fellowship followed.

While the active doctor still plays softball from time to time she says, “I’ve redirected my competitive nature towards things like CrossFit® and obstacle courses like Tough Mudder®.”

The animal-loving surgeon says she is a “kid at heart” who would probably have become a veterinarian if she had not become a pediatric surgeon.