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Common Post-Operative Issues

A few common conditions that can give parents or caregivers grief include constipation, nausea or vomiting and pain management. It’s always important to see your doctors so they can reassure you that the issues are, in fact, non-threatening, and not something more significant that might require medical intervention or hospitalization.

It’s OK to err on the side of caution. Chances are you will end up in emergency at 2 a.m. to find the problem is something simple like constipation, which can be a normal kid issue. The truth is that your child has had brain or spine surgery and you have an extra reason to be cautious!


Constipation can be a big issue for children post-operation as they are moving around less, on medications and might be afraid to use the washroom because of pain.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids.
  • Encourage your child to walk around, as long as it is OK with their doctor.
  • Place a warm blanket on your child’s abdomen.
  • Encourage your child to be patient when sitting on the potty.
  • Serve high-fibre foods such as prunes, fruits such as raspberries, apples and pears with skin, vegetables such as carrots, whole grains such as whole grain pasta, bread, rice, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
  • Talk to the doctor about a bowel routine for your child; they may order a stool softener or bowel stimulant.

These are some common medications that may be ordered by your physician or suggested by a pharmacist:

  • Lactulose
  • Restoralax (Peg)
  • Colace
  • Senekot
  • Suppositories
  • Fleet enema

Bowel Buddy-Get Up and Go Cookie

A parent submitted this recipe. These cookies are a hit with our kids, and they are good for the bowels.

  • ½ cup margarine or butter
  • ½ cup prune puree (use canned baby food)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups all bran cereal
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or 1/3 tsp nutmeg
  • Optional: ½ cup to 1 cup raisins or chocolate chips

Directions: In a large bowl, cream margarine with sugar.
Add egg, pureed prunes and applesauce. Mix well.
Add dry ingredients. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto
three cookie sheets (12 cookies per sheet).
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool on pan for a few minutes, then remove.
Store in a covered container. These cookies freeze well.

Limit to two per day.

Nausea and Vomiting

Having nausea and vomiting is miserable. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist regarding medications that are suitable for your child. A few other ideas are:

  • Encourage plenty of clear fluids (water, juice, ginger ale) to help prevent dehydration, but minimize milk products.
  • Avoid spicy foods and serve a bland diet such as toast, soup and crackers.
  • Serve small portions.
  • Have the child take a relaxing warm bath.
  • Make sure the room is well ventilated – consider a fan.
  • Bring an extra set of clothing for both you and your child, if you need to leave the house.
  • Bring a bucket, plastic bag or Ziploc bag, along with a towel, in case your child needs to vomit.
  • Keep your child’s head elevated with pillows, as lying flat might make it worse.
  • Watch for signs of dehydration when your child has a decreased amount of urine, such as a dry mouth and eyes, sunken eyes, dizziness, and/or headaches. Visit a doctor if you notice signs of dehydration.


There is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain or discomfort. Pain management is also a top priority for the neurosurgery team. They don’t want to see their little patients in pain. Follow all prescriptions and doctor’s orders for administering pain medication. For medications that are given “as needed” for pain, keep track of the times it is administered so you know exactly when to give the next dose. Give your child a warm blanket. Offer a massage, and provide a soothing and calm environment. Encourage rest and relaxation. As a diversion technique, try a simple craft, story, a movie or try colouring. If the pain is not getting better with the medications, seek medical attention.

Good to know:

  • Tylenol / acetaminophen / Tempra are the same
  • Advil / Motrin / ibuprofen are the same

Taking Medication

Some children have a very difficult time taking medication especially in pill form. Here are a few Edmonton pharmacies that compound medications, meaning they will turn medications into liquids and flavour them for your child. Call before going to ensure they can compound your child’s specific medication or ask your local pharmacy if they will do it.

Dispensaries Ltd.
2925 66 Street NW, Edmonton, AB, T6K 4C1
(780) 461-3021
This location will also transfer medications made on site to another Dispensaries Ltd. for you to pick up at no extra charge.

Rexall Outpatient Pharmacy
U of A/Stollery Hospital Pharmacy
8440 112 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T6G 2B7
(780) 407-6990

LeMarchand Dispensary
3B, 11503 100 Avenue, Edmonton, AB
(780) 482-3222

Market Drugs
10203 97 Street, Edmonton, AB
(780) 422-1397

Terra Losa Shoppers
17220 96 Avenue, Edmonton, AB
(780) 443-5800

Helpful Hints

Have a good understanding of your child’s medical condition and history. Emergency departments do not keep records of your child’s condition. Consider creating a medical profile.

  • Get organized. You will have a lot of followup appointments and more tests. Get a calendar that you can have on you at all times and pre-book your children’s appointments.
  • If you notice something you are concerned about, get it checked out. Many clinics have a doctor on call on weekends or after hours. The contact information is usually available on the recorded message at your pediatrician office.
  • Health Link Alberta is available 24 hours per day and offers health advice. Your child must be with you during call.
    Toll-free: 1 (866) 408-5465
    Edmonton: (780) 408-5465
  • Remember that your child will also have the normal issues, like teething, constipation and colds. Try to keep these things in the back of your mind as you assess your child’s condition. It is never wrong to be worried and to seek medical attention.

Preparing For Neurosurgery Outpatient Clinic Visit

  • Always bring your child’s Alberta Health Care card or the health care card from your province.
  • Bring any medical results that have been given to you since your last visit (especially if you are coming from out of town or another province).
  • Have a list of medications and dosage, including herbal and natural supplements and/or vitamins.
  • Bring all legal documents.
    • Legal guardians will need to bring paperwork
    • A parent without legal custody will need to bring paperwork to show that you can make medical decisions
    • Foster parents will need to bring legal documents that provide information about your casework or social worker
  • Arrange for sibling care as this allows you to concentrate on the child’s appointment, for it may take up to three hours. Your child may get a scan
    or x-ray.
  • Attend the appointment prepared with questions, comments and concerns (make a list between visits so you don’t forget).
  • Advise the medical professional about your cultural beliefs, if it is necessary.
  • It is always possible to have the Stollery Children’s Hospital arrange for an interpreter that best suits your family. Please give them advance warning should you require this benefit.
  • If your child has a new rash, fever or has been exposed to chicken pox in the last three weeks, or if someone in your family has been recently diagnosed with tuberculosis, call the office as soon as possible to reschedule the appointment.
  • Make arrangements for housing and transportation, if required.


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