About your arthroscopic shoulder surgery

Questions About Surgery, Casts, Emergencies, Etc.
About your arthroscopic shoulder surgery


Once you and the doctor have decided on surgery, we will have someone from our scheduling office talk to you, usually right then in person, or sometimes on the phone.

They will tell you what day your surgery is scheduled for.  We will try to do this at the time that is most convenient for you, within the limitations of hospital regulations and our existing surgical schedule.

They will also make you an appointment to go to the hospital for pre-registration.  This is when you talk to the nurse at the hospital and get your blood tests, ekg, and any other x rays you need.

One of the doctors or nurses from the anesthesia department might talk to you at that time also. 

Be sure to bring a list of your medicines to the hospital.  The nurse at the hospital will tell you which of your medicines to take on the day of surgery,  If you are on blood thinners like Coumadin or Plavix, they can also tell you how many days before surgery to stop taking these.

Usually, we have you stop arthritis medicine three [3] days before surgery.  For example, if your surgery is on a Monday, then take your last dose of arthritis medicine on the Thursday before.

Likewise, if you take Plavix, stop the Plavix seven [7] days before surgery.  For example, if your surgery is scheduled on a Monday, take your last dose of Plavix on the Sunday of the week before surgery [not on the Sunday just before surgery!]

If you take Coumadin, your doctor will coordinate this with your regular doctor [internal medicine or family practice].  We will run a blood test before surgery to make sure that your blood will clot properly after the surgery.

If you shave your armpits or legs, please use an electric razor or Nair for the week before surgery.  Small cuts from a razor can be a source of infections after surgery!

On the night before your surgery, remember not to eat or drink anything after midnight.  It is okay to brush your teeth on the morning of surgery, but please try not to swallow any water.

When you arrive at the hospital on the day of surgery, the nurses will check you in, have you change into a hospital gown, and will start your IV.  If necessary, your arm and armpit will be shaved with an electric razor. 

The doctor will see you right before surgery.  You will find that a lot of people ask you which shoulder is getting the surgery.  This is to make sure that you get the correct operation on the correct place on your body.

You then will be moved from your room into the actual operating room.  The operating rooms can tend to be a little cold, so please don't be afraid to tell someone if you are cold.  We can cover you with warm blankets.

The surgery takes about 1 to 2 hours.  However, longer surgery time does not necessarily mean that there are problems.  Orthopaedic surgeons use a lot of different equipment during surgery, and we have to make sure that the equipment is just right.

Once surgery is over, you will find yourself in the recovery room.  You will stay there for about an hour, so we can make sure that your blood pressure and breathing are okay, and that you have awakened from surgery without problems.

Once we know everything is okay, you get to go home.  You'll get a prescription for pain medication, and possibly also for antibiotics.  Your arm will be in a sling.  Often times, we will send home with the patient an ice pack that can be used and then re-frozen in your home freezer.

You can use this ice pack as often as you like, but keep an eye on your skin.  If the skin is turning red, stop using the ice pack, or don't leave it on for quite as long.  Most people leave the ice pack on for about 15 minutes at a time, 3 or 4 times a day.

You don't have to change your dressing at home.  If the dressing falls off, or if you want to take it off after the second day following surgery, just cover each of the little sutures with a band aid.

You can shower on the second day after surgery.  Most patients shower with band-aids on, and then just change the band-aids after surgery.

The nurses at the hospital will make you an appointment to see your doctor for about one week after your surgery.  At that time, the stitches will probably be removed, and the doctor will probably start you working with a physical therapist to get the motion back in your shoulder.