About your surgery

Questions About Surgery, Casts, Emergencies, Etc.
About your 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.
  • For most orthopaedic surgery, you won't need a blood transfusion, but if you are having a joint replacement you might need a transfusion after surgery.
  • Some patients are able to donate their own blood for surgery, and we make arrangements for that also. A blood transfusion is sometimes needed after surgery. If you can't donate your own blood, please be assured that the blood bank is very concerned about the safety of blood, and will not even take a donation from someone with a cold!
  • One of the doctors or nurses from the anesthesia department might talk to you at the time of your hospital pre-registration visit. You can discuss with them whether you will have general anesthesia [go to sleep] or spinal anesthesia [an injection in the back that temporarily numbs your legs]. Spinal anesthesia is used for operations on your hips, and below.
  • The anesthesia department might also talk to you about an epidural, if you are having a knee or hip replacement [joint replacement]. This is the same anesthesia that is used during childbirth. The advantage to this is that not only does it numb your legs during surgery, but a tiny tube also stays in your back for a few days after surgery. The nurses can give you medicine in this tube that relieves your pain without making you sleepy.
  • 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 surgeon 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 or leg 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 arm or leg 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.
  • Right before joint replacement surgery, we put in a bladder catheter. You won't feel this. This is so that you don't have to get up to urinate right after surgery. It is removed in 2 or 3 days. You also will get antibiotics in the IV tube, right before surgery and for one day afterward. For most other surgical procedures, we don't use a bladder catheter.
  • Most bone and joint surgery takes about 30 minutes 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.
  • We make sure that you have pain medication after surgery, so that pain is kept to a minimum. This is through the epidural tube in your back, or through the IV tube in your vein, if you don't have an epidural.
  • After surgery, you will either go home, or to your hospital room, depending on if you had a day surgery procedure, or a bigger operation that requires you to stay in the hospital.
  • If you go home the same day, then the nurses will have your prescriptions ready for you, and will have a card that tells you when to come see the doctor again.
  • Your stitches or staples will stay in for 1 to 3 weeks. After the first week, you can leave the wound open to the air.
  • Of course, when you are at home, be sure to watch out for the danger signs of [1] increased pain in the surgical area [2] swelling in the surgical area, [3] drainage from the wound, or [4] redness around the wound, or [5] fever over 101 degrees. If you notice these, tell the home health nurse or call the doctor's office.