For more information on our programs and services, call 1-800-ALVARADO (258-2723).
Getting Ready for Surgery
Step 1: Getting Ready for Surgery
Medical Clearance: Your doctor may request medical clearance examinations. If ordered, these examinations and physician clearances must be completed prior to scheduling your surgery.
Pre-Operative Classes: We want you to be fully informed and prepared for surgery, as well as to understand the importance of your role in the recovery process. Therefore, we encourage you to attend the spine surgery class at no cost to you. Classes are offered regularly.
Pre-Admission Phone Call: Once your surgery is scheduled, the Alvarado Hospital admitting department will call you for personal information such as your address, Social Security number and insurance information. At this time, your pre-admission visit also will be scheduled.
Pre-Admission Visit: Be sure to bring a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you are currently taking, including the dosage of each. Upon arrival at the hospital, go to the information desk located in the main hospital lobby and tell the volunteer that you are here for your pre-admission visit. You will be directed to the admitting department to sign registration papers. From there, you will be directed to the Same Day Surgery Center on the second floor for your pre-operative appointment.
In the surgery center, please sign in and let the secretary know you are here for your pre-admission visit. The pre-operative nurse will meet with you and take a brief medical history, including your medication list (above) and review your pre-surgery instructions. Once completed, you will then be directed to get your blood tests, EKG and chest X-ray, as needed.
Post-Operative Appointments: Prior to surgery, be sure to schedule your initial post-operative appointment with your doctor. This appointment should occur between seven and 10 days after your surgery. Further follow-up appointments may be required, based on the outcome of the first post-operative visit.
- Check with your physician to see if you should continue or stop certain medications.
- Do not bring jewelry, money or valuables to the hospital.
- Do not wear lipstick or eye make-up on the day of surgery.
- Do not wear contact lenses on the day of surgery; eye glasses with a glass case are recommended.
- Bring toiletries (comb, brush, toothbrush, etc.) hearing-aid batteries and a denture case.
- Bring walking shoes with low or no heels or slippers with non-skid soles.
- Bring your back brace (if your physician ordered one) and two T-shirts to wear underneath the brace. Be sure your name is clearly marked on the brace.
Bring a copy of your Advanced Directive (Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Living Will) if you have them.
For a complete list of planning tips, click here.
Step 2: Day of Surgery
Your Medical Team The Advanced Spine Institute is a multi-disciplinary program dedicated to providing board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians that treat and rehabilitate conditions that affect the spinal column. Our team of experts will use the most advanced treatment options available in the field of spine medicine with one goal in mindto ensure that you are cared for with state-of-the-art medicine that is personalized to meet your individual needs.
Pre-Operative Care Upon arrival at the hospital, the staff at the information desk of the main hospital lobby will direct you to the surgery area. One or two family members may come in with you. Surgery preparation includes:
- Washing your back with an antibacterial soap
- Starting an IV in your arm for fluids and medications
- Visiting with your anesthesiologist
- Being given medicine to help you relax (it is normal if this medication makes you feel a little bit hot, dizzy or drowsy).
- After you fall asleep, your glasses and dentures will be removed.
A warm blanket will be provided for your comfort, as the operating rooms are kept quite cool.
Surgery Surgery time varies with each patient and type of procedure. Your family is welcome to relax in the surgical waiting room during this time. Staff will try to keep your family informed on the progress of your surgery until your surgeon is able to update them after the surgery is completed.
Post-Operative Care Immediately following surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room for approximately one to three hours. The nurses will monitor your vital signs, evaluate your pain level, and provide medicine for pain or nausea as needed. Following your recovery, you will be transferred to your room on the spine unit where your family is welcome to join you.
Step 3: After Surgery
The First 24 Hours
- A nurse will check your vital signs and change your position every two to four hours.
- It is important to not bend, lift or twist.
- No sitting for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time (depending on your surgery).
- For the safety of you and your family, only clinical staff may help you get out of bed, stand, and/or take a few steps the day after surgery.
- Your family may help you with hygiene and personal care, if you wish.
- It is especially important to move your feet and legs frequently to help with blood flow.
- You will need to cough, deep breathe, and/or do lung exercises every hour to help prevent fluid from collecting in your lungs. Some patients may need supplemental oxygen; it is typically just for a day or two.
- Food and fluid intake will be gradual; initially you may have ice chips and water. Your first meal will be a liquid diet. Often IV fluids are used to supplement your dietary needs until regular meals can be digested, which is usually the day after surgery.
- You may have a drain tube that will help to remove fluids from the incision site. The drain tube is usually temporary and will be removed in one to two days.
Gas pain and constipation are common after surgery. Do not strain with bowel movements. If you feel that you need a laxative, notify your nurse. You may have a catheter to drain urine from your bladder; it will be removed before you are discharged.
Pain Control It is common to have some pain after surgery. Of course, everyone experiences pain differently. Our goal is to make your recovery as comfortable as possible. By using a pain scale (0-10), we are better able to determine how to treat your pain more effectively. Changing your position, breathing deeply and relaxing as much as you can may help keep you more comfortable and relieve pain.
Medications are more effective in controlling pain when taken before the pain becomes severe. Do not be afraid to ask for pain medication. Tell your nurse when you feel your pain increasing.
In-Hospital Rehabilitation Before you go home, you need to be able to log roll, walk 200 feet, and use the stairs and restroom without assistance. You will be asked to verbalize and demonstrate precautions such as good posture and proper body mechanics. Our physical therapy team will help you reach these goals.
Discharge Planning Your healthcare team will meet with you to discuss safety issues, equipment needs, and the physical layout of your home for a safe transition out of the hospital. Different options may be reviewed and suggestions provided to develop a discharge plan that meets your needs and assists you in making your recovery safe and smooth. The details of this plan will be discussed with you and your family by your discharge planner.
Call Your Doctor Call your doctor if if any of the following symptoms develop:
- Fever is 100 degress F or greater
- Redness, discharge or bleeding from the incision
- Increased pain or tenderness near the incision is not relieved by medication or changing position
- Increasing neck or arm pain
- Weakness, numbness, or tightening in the arm(s) or leg(s)
- Severe cough or chest pain
- Difficulty controlling bowel or bladder
- Severe burning while urinating