Preparing for Surgery

You and your doctor have decided that orthopedic surgery is the right choice for you. Now what? While you should discuss your procedure—and any concerns you may have—with your surgeon, keep these “Five Ws” in mind as you get ready, whether you’re having a minimally invasive outpatient procedure or traditional surgery.

WHAT to do the day before:

Gather your paperwork for the surgical facility or hospital as well as any test results, MRIs or X-rays that your doctor will need for the surgery. If you have the actual films, make sure you bring them with you. DON’T eat or drink after midnight. If you need to take medication, do so with sips of water but nothing more. If you plan to shower before surgery, don’t apply lotion or cream near the surgical site. Remember to set your alarm!

WHERE you’ll start your day:

When you check in at the hospital or surgery center, you’ll be brought to the pre-op holding area to get changed into a gown. There, you’ll also meet the team of professionals who will take care of you throughout the day.

WHO you’ll meet—and WHY:

While you’re in the pre-op holding area, you’ll speak with:

  • Your anesthesia team who will talk to you about the type of anesthesia you will receive. For some procedures, general anesthesia is required, and for others a light sedation is sufficient. To help decrease pain during and after surgery, your doctor may consider a local nerve block for extremity surgeries (such as a shoulder or knee arthroscopy) or spinal anesthesia for procedures such as hip and knee replacements.
  • Your surgeon who will again discuss your procedure with you and address any questions or concerns you may have. He or she will also confirm the type of surgery to be done and the proper side to be operated on, if applicable. For example, if you’re having your shoulder fixed, the surgeon will ask you, “what side are we fixing today?” and will sign his initials on the proper surgical location.
  • The nursing staff that will start an I.V. and ask you many questions pertaining to your medical history. Some of these questions will be asked by many of the doctors and nurses over and over: This is just a safety precaution to make sure that there is no confusion. The nursing staff will then bring you into the operating room.
 WHEN the surgery is complete:

The next thing you know, you will be in the recovery room. You will not feel anything or remember anything from the surgery.

If your procedure is an outpatient one, you will be moved from recovery to a post-up unit when you’re ready and discharged from there when you’re feeling up to going home. If your procedure requires an overnight stay, you will get transferred to your hospital room from the recovery room.