What to Expect with Surgery
Before you have spinal surgery, your medical team will tell you if there are specific preparations you need to make relative to your procedure. Here is some basic information about what to expect when you have spinal surgery:
The Day before Surgery:
Do not have anything to eat or drink after midnight before your surgery. (This includes mints, chewing gum, coffee, tea or water.) Since you will be receiving anesthesia, it is essential that your stomach be empty during surgery.
If you smoke, cut down or quit as soon as possible. Smoking changes blood flow patterns, delays healing and slows recovery. If you haven’t stopped smoking, it is very important that you do not smoke after midnight before surgery or the first 24 hours after surgery. Please be advised that Riverside Regional Medical Center is a non-smoking hospital.
If you drink alcohol, do not consume it 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.
The Day of your Surgery
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 about after surgery
- Toiletries and any other needed personal items
- 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 to he hospital
- Insurance card, driver’s license or other government issued-issued ID
- A list of your home medication including nonprescription or herbal items and a list of:
- Why you take them
- How often you take them (unless it is written on the medication packaging)
- Leave all your valuables at home--money, jewelry and credit cards
Arrival at the hospital
Many back and neck procedures require a hospital stay. Riverside offers surgery on the same day you are admitted so instead of spending the night before your surgery in a hospital, you may sleep in your own bed. You will be given instructions on food, medicine and liquid intake and you will be told what time to arrive at the hospital.
- At the hospital, you will complete 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.
- 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 also receive medication to help you relax
- During Surgery
Before the procedure, you'll be given anesthesia that will put you to sleep so that yo don't feel or remember anything about the surgery. The sleep you get from general anesthesia is different than regular sleep because your brain doesn't form memories or respond to pain signals.
After your surgery, you will be moved to the recovery room where specially trained nurses will continue to monitor your vital signs. Your family will be notified as soon as your operation is complete. Once your medical team knows you are stable, you will be moved to a hospital room where you will be given pain medication and nurses will continue to monitor your vital signs.
During your time in the hospital, your surgeon, nurses and physical therapists will closely monitor your condition and progress. Here is what to expect:
- You may be surprised at how quickly after your surgery the nurses will have you up and and moving around.
- To help your lungs remain clear, it is important after surgery to cough and breathe deeply
- With the help of a nurse about every 2-4 hours, you will need to change position to help keep your skin and blood flow healthy
Postoperative pain management will enable you to do the required physical therapy and to minimize pain and stress. If a general or spinal anesthesia was used, postoperative pain relief may be delivered intravenously. Within preset limits, you will be able to control the flow of medication as you feel the need for additional relief. Gradually, the pain medication will be reduced and you will be given solid food.
You will generally be discharged once you meet rehabilitative milestones your doctor established such as getting in and out of bed unassisted and walking a short distance. How long you stay in the hospital depends on your overall condition and what type of surgery you have.
Avoiding Complications after Surgery
It is important that you follow your doctor's instructions so that the potential for blood clots is minimized. Notify your doctor right away if any of the following warning signs develop:
- Increased pain in your calf
- Tenderness or redness above or below your knee
- Increased swelling in your calf, ankle or foot
- Sudden, increased shortness of breath
Another possible complication of surgery is infection. Notify your physician or other care provider immediately if you develop any of the following warning signs of a possible infection:
- Persistent fever (higher than 100 degrees)
- Shaking or chills
- Increased redness, tenderness or swelling near the incision
- Drainage from the incision
- Increased back pain even when you are resting