Fundoplication Surgery in Children: What to Expect at Home

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Location of esophagus and stomach, with detail of how they look before and after surgery

Your Child's Recovery

The doctor wrapped the upper part of your child's stomach (fundus) around the lower part of the esophagus. This prevents stomach acid from moving back into the esophagus.

Your child may be sore and have some belly pain for several weeks after surgery. If your child had laparoscopic surgery, there may also be some shoulder or back pain. This pain is caused by the gas used to inflate the belly to help see the organs better. The pain usually lasts about 1 or 2 days.

For up to 6 weeks after the surgery, it may be hard for your child to swallow and burp. Your child may also have belly cramps, feel bloated, or pass more gas than before. The cramping and bloating usually go away in 2 to 3 months. But your child may pass more gas for a long time.

Because the surgery makes the stomach a little smaller, your child may get full sooner when eating. In 2 to 3 months, the stomach adjusts and your child will be able to eat the usual amounts of food.

How quickly your child recovers depends on whether your child had a laparoscopic or open surgery. After laparoscopy, most children can go back to their normal routine in about 2 to 3 weeks. After open surgery, children may need a little longer to get back to their normal routines.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for your child at home?

Activity

 
  • Have your child rest when they feel tired.
  • Allow your child's belly to heal. Don't let your child move quickly or lift anything heavy for about 2 weeks or until the doctor says it is okay.
  • Don't allow your child to do sit-ups or any exercise or activity that uses the belly muscles until the doctor says it is okay.
  • Don't let your child take part in any activity where your child could be hit in the belly. Your child can do routine activities when it feels okay to do so.
  • Have your child hold a pillow over the incisions when coughing or taking deep breaths. This will support the belly and may help to decrease pain.
  • Your child may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery. But don't let your child swim or take a bath until the doctor says it's okay.

Diet

 
  • For the first week, give your child a liquid or soft diet. This includes broths, soups, milk shakes, puddings, and mashed potatoes. When your child can eat these, give your child other foods that are easy to swallow, such as ground meat, shredded chicken, fish, pasta, and soft vegetables.
  • Have your child eat 5 or 6 small meals each day instead of 2 or 3 large meals.
  • Have your child chew each bite of food very well. Encourage your child to eat slowly. It may take 20 to 30 minutes to eat a meal.
  • Avoid crusty breads, bagels, pizza, tough meats like hot dogs, raw vegetables, nuts and seeds (including crackers and breads that have nuts and seeds), and other foods that are hard to digest.
  • If your child feels full quickly, try to give fluids between meals instead of with meals.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks, such as soda pop.
  • Avoid drinking with straws. This may help your child swallow less air when drinking.
  • Gradually return to your child's normal foods. This usually takes 4 to 6 weeks.
  • If your child's bowel movements are not regular right after surgery, you can help your child to avoid constipation and straining. Have your child drink plenty of water. The doctor may suggest fiber, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.

Medicines

 
  • Your doctor will tell you if and when your child can restart their medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about your child taking any new medicines.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

 
  • If your child has strips of tape on the cut (incision) the doctor made, leave the tape on until it falls off.
  • Gently wash the area daily with warm, soapy water and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it oozes or rubs against clothing.
  • Change the bandage every day or if it gets wet or dirty.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child is short of breath.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child is sick to their stomach and can't keep fluids down.
  • Your child has pain that does not get better after you give them pain medicine.
  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage.
  • Your child has loose stitches, or the incision comes open.
  • Your child cannot pass stools or gas.

Watch closely for any changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter N297 in the search box to learn more about "Fundoplication Surgery in Children: What to Expect at Home".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.