The Morning of Your Surgery
Please leave valuables, including watches, jewelry, and credit cards, at home if possible. You may wish to bring a comfortable bathrobe, slippers, pajamas, and personal toiletries. Also bring any medications you are currently taking, clearly marked in a pharmacy bottle. You may want a small amount of cash for incidentals.
Your surgeon's office will tell you what time to arrive at the hospital. Please check in at the Surgicenter admitting department. Designated parking is available in front of the Surgicenter.
You may be given medication before surgery. This will make you sleepy and cause your mouth to feel dry. Relax and remain in bed with the rails up. If you need anything, call your nurse. For your safety, do not get out of bed.
In the Operating Room
Your surgery team will usually consist of your surgeon, surgical assistant, anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, operating room nurse, and surgical technicians. They are all with you to make sure everything goes smoothly during surgery.
Before surgery, an intravenous (IV), a plastic needle, will be inserted into the vein of your hand or forearm. Any fluids or medications you need during surgery are given to you through the IV.
The operating room is kept at a cool temperature; if you become chilled and would like an extra blanket, please ask. We want you to be as comfortable as possible.
Your anesthesiologist will review your chart and determine the best type of anesthesia for you. There are two types of anesthesia for major surgery: general and regional.
- General anesthesia is usually administered by adding medications to your IV and having you breathe a mixture of anesthetic gases.
- Regional anesthesia is administered by injecting medication to numb a portion of your body for surgery. The numbness will last from 2 to 6 hours. You may also be sedated during your surgery.
Your heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen concentration, and breathing will be monitored closely throughout your operation, regardless of the type of anesthesia used.
In the Recovery Room
After surgery, you will be taken to the PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit), or recovery room. A PACU nurse will care for you as your anesthesia wears off, monitoring your condition and checking your dressing, blood pressure, IV, catheter, and other drainage tubes.
You may experience a variety of symptoms as your anesthesia wears off, including blurry vision, dry mouth, nausea, chills, and of course some pain. Please do not hesitate to ask your nurse for pain or nausea medication. Your anesthesiologist will determine when you can be moved to your room, which is generally within 3 hours after surgery.
There are several things you can do to make yourself more comfortable and help speed your recovery from surgery:
- Pain management: Unfortunately, some pain after surgery is unavoidable. Medication to ease the pain can be administered in pill form, by injection or through your IV. It is important to tell someone if your pain gets worse, before it becomes unbearable.
- Nausea management: Patients are sometimes nauseated when they wake up. If this should happen, be sure to turn your head to one side and call your nurse to assist you.
- Coughing: After certain surgical procedures, coughing is essential to clear your lungs. Your nurse will teach you how to hold a pillow over your incision and push in and up when you cough.
- Deep breathing: Deep breathing helps prevent pneumonia and increases circulation, which is sluggish after surgery. Your nurse will show you how to use an incentive spirometer to exercise your lungs. The more often you use it, the better. Please do not wait until your nurse reminds you to practice this important exercise.
- Activity: Movement, no matter how small, helps recovery. Try to turn gently in bed and move your limbs frequently. Walking helps stimulate your body's systems, so you will also be "up and on your feet" fairly soon after surgery. Be sure you receive help your first time out of bed and move gently.
- Intake and Output: This is commonly referred to as "I& O." After surgery, your digestive system is sluggish. You may be fed through your IV at first, progress to a liquid diet, then graduate to solid food. You may also have a catheter to relieve your bladder. Your urinary output will be measured regularly.