Inpatient Surgery: What to Expect

If you have a scheduled surgery rather than an emergency procedure, you'll have time to prepare for the surgery and recovery. Your Riverside surgeon and staff will be happy to explain your particular procedure and what you should expect. Don't hesitate to ask questions.

Riverside Nurse
This service is a good resource for information about surgery preparation and recovery. They can be reached at (757) 595-6363 or 1-800-675-6368.

Before surgery
Discuss with your medical team about the length of time you will need to stay at home and plan accordingly. This may mean:

  • rearranging furniture prior to your surgery day so you can get around more easily,
  • stocking up on foods or asking a friend or family to stay with your for a day or two.
  • paying your bills in advance, so there is one less thing on your mind.

Make sure your medical insurance coverage is in order
Contact your insurer, well in advance of surgery, to make sure you understand the following:

  • Need for a second opinion on your surgery.
  • Hospital and health care providers' status as "in-network" or "preferred."
  • Deductibles for hospital services.
  • Limits on length of your hospital stay.
  • Home health care coverage, what type, and for how long.

Medical preparations
Depending on the type of surgery you are having, you may need surgical preparation. Discuss with your surgeon which preparations are appropriate for your upcoming procedure.

  • Donate your blood. Because you may require a blood transfusion during or after your surgery, you may be asked to donate your own blood.
  • Pre-operative testing. You'll need to go for Pre-operative Assessment testing before your surgery. To make an appointment to have your testing done at Riverside, call Riverside Central Scheduling at (757) 989-8830 (Option 2). If you are having surgery at Riverside Regional Medical Center, you can have your pre-op testing done in the new Pavilion, a 250,000 sq. ft addition that also houses spacious, new Operating Suites and other services.

Your body needs to be in the best condition possible before the stresses of surgery. You should eat a healthy, well balanced diet and increase your intake of calcium, iron and vitamin C. Calcium is important for building and maintaining bone strength. Iron builds red blood cells, which help healing. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron into the body.

  • The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of calcium is 1000 to 1200 milligrams a day.
  • The RDA for iron is 8-18 milligrams a day.
  • The RDA for vitamin C is 75-90 milligrams a day.

The night before your surgery

  • Do not have anything to eat or drink after midnight before your surgery — including mints, chewing gum, coffee, tea or water. Since you'll be using anesthesia, it's essential that your stomach is empty during surgery.
  • If you smoke, cut down or quit as soon as possible. Smoking changes blood flow patterns, delays healing and slows recovery. Do not smoke after midnight before your surgery or the first 24 hours after.
  • Do not consume any alcohol for at least 48 hours before surgery.
  • If you use any type of controlled substances, tell your doctor. Narcotics and other drugs can have an impact on your surgery.
  • Take a shower or bath the night before your surgery to help reduce the risk of infection.
  • Do not wear any make-up, lipstick or nail polish.

Day of surgery
For many surgical procedures, Riverside offers surgery on the same day you are admitted, so instead of spending the night before in the hospital, you can sleep in your own bed. You'll be given instructions on food, medicine and liquid intake and told the time to come to the hospital.

What to bring

  • Low heeled walking shoes with non-skid soles or tennis shoes. No open heel shoes or clogs.
  • Pajamas and a short bathrobe.
  • Loose fitting, comfortable clothing to wear when you get up and move after surgery.
  • Toilet articles and any other needed personal items.
  • Eyeglasses.
  • If you use an inhaler, please bring it.
  • Bring any orders given to you by your doctor and give them to the person who admits you.
  • Insurance card, driver's license or other government issued-issued ID.
  • A list of your home medications including non-prescription or herbal items, along with a list explaining what you take them for; how often you take them; dosage.
  • Leave all of your valuables at home — money, jewelry and credit cards.

At the hospital, you'll take care of some hospital admission paperwork. Don't forget to bring your insurance card and a driver's license or other government-issued ID.

  • In the pre-surgery unit, a nurse will speak with you and verify your health history and allergies.
  • You'll put on a gown and lay on a stretcher. From here on out, you'll be wheeled to the various areas for your surgery and recovery.
  • Intravenous fluids will be started to provide you with medication and fluid during surgery and for a day or two after your operation.
  • You may receive medication to help you relax and dry out your mouth.
  • You'll be given general, spinal, or epidural anesthesia.

After the surgery
Regardless of the type of inpatient surgery is performed, your recovery and rehabilitation will follow along these general lines.

Post Anesthesia Care Unit
Once the operation is over, you'll be moved to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit where specially trained nurses will continue to monitor your vital signs. Once your condition is stabilized, you'll be moved to a hospital room where you'll be given pain medication. Your family will be notified as soon as your operation is over.

In your hospital room, nurses will continue to monitor your vital signs and wound dressing. You may be surprised how quickly after your surgery the nurses have you up and moving around.

  • It's important after surgery to cough and breathe deeply to help your lungs remain clear.
  • You'll also need to change positions with the help of a nurse about every 2-4 hours to help keep your skin and blood flow healthy.

Pain relief
Postoperative pain management enables you to minimize pain and stress. If a general or spinal anesthesia was used, postoperative pain relief may be delivered intravenously. You will be able to control the flow of medication, within preset limits as you feel the need for additional relief. Gradually the pain medication will be reduced and you'll be given solid food. If you have concerns about post-operative pain, discuss pain management with your surgeon well before the surgery.



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