Pediatric Surgery International

, Volume 34, Issue 7, pp 763–767 | Cite as

Is surgery a risk factor for separation anxiety in children?

  • Muhammet Emin Naldan
  • Ali Karayagmurlu
  • Elif Oral Ahıskalıoglu
  • Mehmet Nuri Cevizci
  • Pelin Aydin
  • Duygu Kara
Original Article



Postoperative anxiety symptoms are distressing for both family and child. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of postoperative anxiety symptoms in children.


60 children aged 6–12 undergoing surgery were included in the study group. The study group was assessed three times in terms of separation anxiety disorder (SAD), at the time of presentation, 1 and 3 months postoperatively. A personal information form and the SAD section of the K-SADS-PL on the basis of DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for screening SAD symptoms were used.


Study group consisted of 19 girls (31.7%) and 41 boys (68.3%) (mean age 8.9 ± 2.3). Four (6.6%) of the cases at the time of presentation and 13 (21.6%) in the study group met SAD diagnostic criteria in 1 month and 21 (35.0%) in 3 months. Anxiety disorder symptoms were significantly higher in the study group at 3 months postoperatively (p < 0.05). There is significant correlation between both SAD symptoms and duration of hospitalization. There was also a positive correlation between duration of hospitalization and parental education and SAD symptoms.


Greater SAD was observed in children undergoing surgical procedures. It will be useful to physicians to consider SAD after surgery in pediatric patients especially when the level of parental education and duration of hospitalization increase. Since SAD may persist long after surgery, it may cause constant fear in personality disorders and lead to psychological problems by significantly lowering quality of life.


Operation Surgery Postoperative anxiety Child Separation anxiety 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None declared.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesia and Reanimation, University of Health SciencesErzurum Education and Research HospitalErzurumTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryGaziantep Children’s HospitalGaziantepTurkey
  3. 3.Department of Pediatric SurgeryBalikesir UniversityBalikesirTurkey

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