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What Testing Will I Need Before Surgery?

All patients are required to have pre-admission testing (PAT) before surgery to assess if you are medically fit to tolerate the surgical procedure. This will be scheduled with a General Medical Consultants physician. General Medical Consultants is located directly across from the JIS Orthopedics New Albany office. In some cases, your insurance may require pre-admission testing be done by your primary care physician. Pre-admission testing will include a history and physical, routine blood work, an electrocardiogram (EKG), and chest x-ray. In some instances, other testing may be ordered. For example, if you have a history of heart disease, a stress test may be ordered. These physicians may also coordinate any other consultations with medical specialists if they believe it is necessary for appropriate surgical optimization.

What About My Daily Medications Before Surgery?

At the time of your preadmission testing the doctor will review the medications you take routinely. You will be advised of any medications that you need to stop before surgery, such as anti-inflammatory pills. You will also be told which medications you may take the morning of surgery. Specific instructions will be given regarding blood thinning medications, and how far before surgery to discontinue.

How Long Will I Be in the Hospital or Surgery Center?

Depending upon the procedure, your insurance coverage, and your health status, there is a good chance your procedure can done as an outpatient, allowing you to come in and go home the same day. Some patients will require a hospital stay, and the average length of that stay is 1-2 days. Length of stay is determined by activity progress, medical progress, and wound condition. Insurance authorizations are frequently required and your surgeon’s office will take care of this for you. If additional days are needed, a hospital representative will contact your insurance company to provide medical information to obtain additional authorized days.

When Should I Arrive at the Hospital or Surgery Center for My Surgery?

The hospital or center will call you the afternoon (1 business day) before your surgery and tell you what time to arrive. Once you arrive to the hospital or surgery center you will go through the admission process, change into hospital/surgery center clothing, meet the anesthesiologist, and meet hospital or center staff who will be caring for you. Specific surgery times are not given. Typically, you can expect to undergo your surgery within a few hours of the arrival time. Occasionally situations occur which may result in a delay. You are to eat nothing by mouth (NPO) from midnight on the day of your surgery. In cases where you have been instructed to take medications the morning of surgery, you should do so with a sip of water as necessary.

What Should I Bring on the Day of My Surgery?

On the day of your surgery, please be sure to bring your photo identification. Also, you should not bring any valuable items. Please bring any medical equipment that has been dispensed for you to use during your recovery such as back brace, or walker.

Will I Have an Opportunity to Ask Questions?

Questions and concerns will be addressed at the time of your visit with the surgeon. Other opportunities to ask questions include at the time of your pre-admission testing when you will meet with an internal medicine physician and a licensed physical therapist. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call the JIS Orthopedics office.


What Nature of Anesthesia Will I Have?

Surgeries are performed using general, epidural, spinal, or nerve block anesthesia, or a combination of these. In some cases, the medical physician or anesthesiologist will have specific recommendations. The anesthesiologist will meet with you the day of surgery to discuss these options. At that time, feel free to voice any questions.

How Long Will Surgery Take?

The time it takes to complete a Spine surgery depends on your procedure. Minor surgeries can take one hour. More complex surgeries can take several hours.

How Will My Family Know When the Surgery Has Been Completed?

Following your procedure, the surgeon will visit the waiting area to speak with your family members.


What Happens After Surgery?

After surgery, you will be taken to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) where you will be monitored closely for one to three hours. You will then be taken to your private recovery room or hospital room where you will be reunited with your family. Your nurse will perform assessments frequently until you are ready to leave the hospital or surgery center. Pain medication will be administered. You will have an intravenous line (IV) and pumps on both calves that will intermittently pump – keeping blood circulating and helping prevent blood clots. Some patients will have a heart monitor. Your surgeon strongly recommends that you take the portable calf pumps home with you as they are the safest and most effective way of preventing blood clots. You will be instructed to perform several exercises every hour including: deep breathing, ankle pumps, quad sets, and a buttock squeeze.

Wound dressings can typically be removed after 48 hours. After it is removed you will be able to leave your dressing off or open to air. You will also begin to cleanse your incision daily with soap and water. Continue to monitor for signs of infection. You will be given additional discharge instructions that include your activity, restrictions, wound care, and potential post-operative issues and what actions to take.

Support stockings are used for all surgeries and are helpful in reducing leg swelling after surgery. These stockings are also helpful in acting as a skin barrier for the leg pumps. However, these stockings are NOT mandatory and can be removed or used as needed after the second postoperative day.

How Will My Incision Be Closed?

Your incision may be closed several ways depending on multiple factors including the type of surgery and health of the skin. The incision may be closed with absorbable suture under the skin covered with a steri-strip. Otherwise, your incision may be closed with the more traditional method of skin staples, which will be removed at JIS Orthopedics two weeks after your surgery.

When Will I Start Physical Therapy?

Not everyone will require physical therapy. This will be evaluated at your follow up appointment after surgery.

When Will I See My Surgeon?

At the surgery center, the surgeon will be present throughout the day and monitoring your progress towards going home. At the hospital, the surgeon and orthopedic team make rounds each morning whenever possible. If your surgeon is not available you will be seen by his associate.

Will I Be Discharged Home or Somewhere Else for Rehabilitation?

As an outpatient, you will be able to return home the same day as your procedure. We do have the ability to keep you overnight at the surgery center, should the need arise. From the hospital, you will usually be discharged to home once your physician determines that therapy goals of independence and safety have been met. It is important for most people that you have family or friends with you for several days to two weeks.

In situations where goals have not been met, or if you live alone and there are problems with independence and safety, additional physical therapy and rehabilitation may be needed before you can go home. Case managers from the hospital or the administrator of the surgery center will help arrange for rehabilitation if this is necessary. Patient choice, availability, and insurance criteria impact approval for these rehabilitation centers and transfer issues if needed.


Can I Go Up and Down Stairs?

Following release from the surgery center or before you are discharged to home, the physical therapist will instruct you on stair climbing. We discourage more than one flight up and down a day until your strength and stamina allow it. This may be several days or weeks. In home settings with no sleeping accommodation on the main living level, necessitating several trips up and down stairs, a hospital bed may be needed.

What About Pain Management at Home?

You have signed a controlled substance agreement that helps guide you on what to expect following surgery. You will be given a specific set of pain prescriptions and very specific instructions guiding their use. You will likely need pain medication for several weeks or more. You will be provided with a prescription when you leave the hospital or surgery center. It is helpful to coordinate medication doses before exercises and bedtime. Should you need additional medication beyond this prescription you will need to contact our office during regular business hours for a refill. NOTE: We are not able to respond to pain medication refills after hours or on the weekend.

How Long Will I Need to Use My Walker or Crutches?

Patients typically require a walker or crutches for 1-2 weeks and a cane for an additional 1-2 weeks. The choice of assistive devices and duration of use varies widely and depends upon the type and extent of your surgery, as well as your general physical condition.

When May I Drive?

Driving is usually deferred for 2-3 weeks after surgery and addressed at your follow up appointment. Driving is discouraged not only because of the surgery but also because of the possible side effects of your pain medication. However, if you feel safe and capable to handle the vehicle, and you have stopped taking narcotic pain medications, you may resume driving at your own discretion.

When Can I Go Back to Work?

Usually patients are away from work for anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks depending on the extent of your surgery. Decisions to return to work are based on patient progress, unique situation, work type, and patient choice issues.

When Can I Resume Sports Activities?

Individual ability and endurance will differ between patients. Activities such as swimming, bike riding, golf, hiking, and low impact sport activities can be resumed somewhere between 6 and 12 weeks. Discuss any specific activity questions with your surgeon directly to find out how to better protect your spine by strengthening your core.

Are There Any Special Concerns When Going to the Dentist or Another Doctor?

The use of antibiotics for infection prophylaxis is not typically needed after spine surgery.

What Is an EOB (Explanation of Benefits)? Is It a Bill?

An EOB is a document provided to you by your insurance company that explains how your insurance claim and charges were processed from the multiple providers that cared for you. It is NOT a bill, but the EOB may be a preview of what you owe to the providers who cared for you during the surgery.

Will I Receive Different Bills from Different Providers of Care?

It is very common to receive a bill from each of the providers that participated in your care including your surgeon, the facility, the pre-admission testing medical physician, and the anesthesiologist. How much you owe is determined by your insurance plan and other factors like your deductible, co-pay amounts, and co-insurance responsibilities.