Trusting your baby (no matter how old your “baby” may be) to somebody else is terrifying. As moms, our kids’ health and safety is always on our mind. Things happen and fortunately, Mercy Kids, has a team of over 20 highly trained specialists that care for
your our kids like family.
Meet Dr. Troy Spilde. Dr. Spilde specializes in pediatric surgery and understands that anytime a child undergoes surgery it can be unnerving for both mom and patient. His “typical day” may be much different from you and me, but we all have the same goal: healthy kids.
Note from Kelli and Mindi: Thank you, Dr. Spilde, for taking the time to educate our fellow SWMO mommas about the important work you do. We appreciate you caring for our kids as much as we do!
Describe your typical day as a pediatric surgeon.
My typical day begins pretty early in the morning. If I am operating, we have our first patient arrive around 0600 to get checked in to the hospital. From there, they will see many people, including the preop nurses, the anesthesiologist, the nurse anesthetist, our advanced practice nurses, and either my partner, Dr. Scott Keckler, or me. We try to be back in the operating room as quickly as possible, as we are aware that our patients have not had anything to eat or drink since the night before. We typically operate in a “youngest to oldest” fashion, meaning our youngest patients have their operations first, and our oldest following. You can explain to a teenager why they cannot eat prior to undergoing anesthesia, but infants and toddlers do not really care what the reason is. We see our hospital patients in between cases while the operating room is being prepared for the next patient, and when we are done operating, we go see our clinic patients in the afternoon. We occasionally have meetings, etc. in the afternoons or evenings, but even then we are sometimes not done operating if there is a child with an emergency. We have a pediatric surgeon available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for emergency cases.
What’s the most challenging part of being a pediatric surgeon?
The most challenging aspect is actually the training to become a pediatric surgeon. A typical path is, after college and medical school, to complete a five year general surgery residency, do a one or two year research fellowship, a one year critical care or minimally invasive surgery fellowship, followed by a two year pediatric surgery fellowship where you only care for children. My partner, Dr. Scott Keckler, and I are both board certified in general surgery, surgical critical care, and pediatric surgery. There is much more to being a pediatric surgeon than a general surgeon who operates on children. In addition, the other most challenging aspect is when an outcome is not as planned, or a child requires a reoperation. While this is rare, occasionally a problem can recur.
What advice do you offer to the parents of kids before their child undergoes an operation?
The most important piece of advice I would give is that we are all interested in the best possible outcome for your child. It can be scary and anxiety-provoking when your child needs an operation. We will do everything we can to make the experience as positive as possible. Parents are the only people who care more than we do in the best interest of their child, and even then it is pretty close. We take great pride in caring for children.
What do you and your nurses do to help decrease the fear that some kids feel prior to a surgery?
This is a great question. We actually have an incredible Child Life department that hosts a preop party for kids. The child life staff are typically available for all our elective cases, and many of our urgent or emergent cases. They have a variety of distraction techniques, and can make things much less scary. Also, we have a medicine that we give kids over age one year prior to going back to the operating room. A typical scenario is the patient is checked in, we let the staff know when we are ready, and the nurses then give the medication (which is a liquid that is swallowed), the medication takes several minutes to start working, the child gets sleepy and isn’t aware of what is going on, and does not remember anything for several minutes surrounding the medication. We go back to the operating room while the medicine is still working, and there, the patient breathes a mask with oxygen and sedative gas. Once the patient is sleeping, an IV is placed, followed by a tube to help deliver oxygen and gas throughout the operation.
Do you work hand-in-hand with pediatricians?
Most of our referrals come from pediatricians, but there are several other providers who refer patients. (I refuse to call them clients; I became a doctor to take care of patients, not “clients”). Family practice doctors will frequently refer children for whom they care, as well as Ob/Gyn doctors who may be taking care of unborn infants with known problems based on ultrasounds, etc.
Describe the best part of your job.
The best part of my job is when a patient does well, and the family says “Thank you.” Many people are probably not aware, but I have kept every card, note, letter, and picture that has been given to me by families for whom I have cared.
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