Preparing for Your Child's Surgery

Please visit the NewYork-Presbyterian web pages about changes to these instructions during the pandemic.


Welcome to the Pediatric Brain and Spine Center's Preoperative Program. This page will give you and your child information about what to expect as you prepare for neurological surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. We will schedule a day prior to surgery to perform a number of tests and give you a tour of the hospital. If you haven't yet completed your child's medical history form, please download it now.

Sample Schedule for Your Pre-operative Day

  • You will need to fill out multiple forms.
  • Your child may have the following tests: an EKG, and a Chest X-ray.
  • Blood tests may be taken.
  • The Nurse Practitioner will meet with you on this day to answer questions.
  • A History and Physical examination will be completed.
  • A tour of the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) will be given.
  • Insurance information will also be requested at this time.
  • Please plan on being at the hospital for about 5 hours.
  • Please bring formula/food for your child.

What Should I Do If My Child Gets Sick Before Surgery?

If your child develops a runny nose, cough, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or a rash within two weeks of the surgery date please call the neurosurgery office. If you reach the answering service, leave your name, phone number, and a message that your child is ill. We will call you back. Also, contact your child's Pediatrician. We will reschedule your child's surgery after he or she gets better.

Surgery Day: Some Items to Be Sure to Bring Along

On the day of surgery you may bring your child's favorite toy or blanket. On the second or third day after surgery, you can bring more items such as those listed below. There is a small space at the bedside in the PICU for belongings.

  • Clothes: soft, loose-fitting tee shirts, sneakers, socks, underwear for use when your child is getting out of bed.
  • Toys: stuffed animals, a blanket, a favorite toy, a battery-operated headset, coloring books, reading books, and similar items.

PLEASE NOTE: *There are NO plants or flowers allowed in the PICU.


You and your child will meet with the anesthesiologist the morning of surgery. The anesthesiologist will answer any questions. Please write down your questions so we can answer all of them for you.

Going Into the Operating Room

A parent can go with their child into the operating room. Once the child is sleeping, you will be asked to leave the operating room. You may wish to have breakfast at this time. Be sure to check that you have all your personal items with you.

Where Will I Wait While My Child Is in Surgery?

Please wait on the third floor in the Greenberg Pavilion Waiting Room. The neurosurgeon will keep you informed about your child's progress. Please leave a cell phone number where you can be reached.

Visiting and Staying with Your Child After Surgery

  • Parents and family members are welcome to visit the child in the PICU. One parent may stay overnight.
  • After surgery, it will be about one hour before you will see your child in the PICU. You will be brought in to see the child as soon as possible. If you have been waiting longer than one hour, and the staff has not spoken with you, please go to the PICU desk and ask when you can visit.
  • Parents may call the PICU at any time. The telephone number is 212-746-0308. For privacy, staff will only give information to parents. Please tell friends and other relatives not to call the PICU for information.
  • Please limit the visitors to two at a time in your child's room.
  • A parent's waiting area is available for your use. We encourage you to use this room to take a break or to eat.
  • Pay telephones are located near the G elevators.
  • Bathrooms are adjacent to the parent's waiting area.
  • Vending machines for soft drinks and snacks are located in the family waiting room.
  • There is a television, DVD/VCR player at each child's bedside. Video games are also available. DVDs and games may be brought in from home. Please put your child's name on any DVDs/games brought from home.
  • All jewelry, cameras, radios, and expensive toys should be taken home. Remember the hospital is not responsible for your valuables.
  • Cellular phone policy: For patient safety, cellular phones are not allowed in patient care areas. Please be sure to turn your cell phone completely off.

Overnight Stays

If you or other family members want to stay near the hospital, contact the Helmsley Medical Tower for a reservation. The phone number is 212-472-8400.

Child Life Program

The Child Life Program offers many ways to help your child deal with their hospitalization. Certified child specialists help decrease the anxiety of hospitalization by using age appropriate language to explain medical tests. They teach ways to cope that help children gain a sense of control and understanding. For more information on the Child Life Program please call (212) 746-3518.

Additional Telephone Numbers

Pediatric ICU: 212-746-0308




Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787