Ear, nose and throat (ENT) problems are very common in children. Between 300,000 and 400,000 children and adolescents undergo tonsillectomies every year in the United States. Ear infections are some of the most common ENT problems kids have. By the time they reach the age of two, about 90% of all kids have had their first ear infection. About 30% of all kids have had more than three ear infections by the time they reach the age of three years old. When children suffer from airway disorders sometimes it is necessary for them to undergo an airway reconstruction surgery.
The airway reconstruction surgery term actually refers to a wide array of procedures that are performed to allow an adult or child to breathe normally and are performed in response to a congenital defect or for complication from a medical procedure. They are often used when children suffer from breathing difficulties, sleep disordered breathing or conditions such as vocal cord paralysis. When doctors talk about performing an airway reconstruction, they are referring to the area of the body that begins at the trachea and goes all the way to the top of the voice box. This classification of operation includes hundreds of different procedures.
Surgeons perform two kinds of surgeries that fall into the category of airway reconstruction; endoscopic surgery and open airway operations. In endoscopic surgery, the surgeon goes through the mouth and does not need to open up the neck. These are more limited operations and have an easier time with their recovery. The open procedures require surgeons to make an open incision in the neck.
How to Best Prepare Your Child for an Airway Reconstruction Surgery:
If your child needs to have an airway reconstruction surgery, it can be very scary for you and your child. Your child will be treated at a medical facility that has specialists in this area. The healthier your child is when they have the operation, the better. For at least a few weeks before their operation, they should not be allowed near anyone who is actively sick. This includes people with a fever or cold. If your child becomes sick immediately before the scheduled time of the operation, you should talk to your child’s surgeon and see if they want to postpone the surgery.
About a week before the surgery is scheduled, your child will be seen for a preoperative counseling visit. You can take this opportunity to look around the medical facility where your child will have their operation.
You will bring your child to the hospital the day before or early on the day of the actual surgery. The length of time of both the operation itself and their stay in the hospital will depend a lot on which kind of operation they have. Endoscopic procedures take less time in the operating room and then in the hospital afterwards. Open procedures do take longer and your child will spend more time in the hospital after the surgery is completed.
Before your child is admitted to the hospital, you should do what you can to do to prepare them for the experience of being in the hospital. You can talk to the nurses and the medical staff and get their help with this as they have a lot of experience making children feel more comfortable and less frightened while they are in the hospital. You may also want to take your child to the hospital before being admitted to tour it and see where they will be staying.
There are things you can do to make your child’s hospital stay easier and less scary. Bring things from home that will comfort him or her. That can include blankets, pillows, pictures, toys, stuffed animals or whatever items that your child will find comforting and will remind them of home. Before your child is admitted to the hospital, find out what their visiting hours and policies are. Ask about who will be allowed to visit your child. Most of the time, parents are allowed to remain overnight in the room with their child. If this is not an option, they will have access to someplace you can stay that is very close by.