Preparing to undergo orthopaedic surgery — whether it is on your knee, shoulder, or spine — can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you have never experienced a surgical procedure before. The anticipation in the weeks leading up to a surgery is a normal response to such a major event in your life.

Your doctor should prepare you for what to expect before the day of your surgery arrives, not only to calm emotions but to help you gain a complete understanding of what you will be going through.

Before the Day of the Procedure

Prior to the day of your surgery, you will be asked to fill out some paperwork. If anesthesia is being used during your surgery, you will complete a Pre-Anesthesia Assessment, which will be reviewed by nurses and by an anesthesiologist at the surgery center. You will also go over your medical history and any medications that you might be taking.

According to federal law, your doctor must ask if you have completed an Advance Directive, which is a document that outlines your choices on medical treatments or the names of people who can make choices about medical treatments for you if you are unable to make your own decisions. Completing an Advance Directive is not mandatory; however, it is recommended.

Before the day of your surgery, you will typically go over pre-operative instructions as well.

Pre-Operative Preparation

On the day of your surgery, you will go through some pre-operative procedures. Before this, you should be sure to arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you and drive you home after surgery. It is also usually suggested that you leave all of your valuables at home and do not eat or drink in the hours leading up to your surgery.

When you are taken back to the pre-operative area, a nurse will discuss pain assessment and pain management and will begin your IV. During this time, an anesthesiologist will talk with you about types of anesthesia, the best method for you and have you sign an anesthesia consent form. You should let your doctors know about your history with anesthesia or any potential risks before your surgery.

Post-Operative Preparation

Your period in the post-operative area depends on the type of anesthesia you received and your expected course of recovery. After surgery, you will be closely checked on by nurses who will help manage your pain.

As the anesthesia wears off and you become more responsive, nurses will make sure you are comfortable and can take fluids and sit up in your bed without dizziness.

After you have completed all of your immediate post-operative procedures, you will be ready to leave. Your nurse will review instructions for care when you get home and will usually follow up with a phone call the next day.

Although each type surgery is unique, the pre- and post-operative procedure will largely remain the same to ensure consistent care. Knowing what to expect, you can feel more comfortable in the days leading up to your orthopaedic surgery.

About The Author:

Kitchi Joyce is the Director of Administrative Services for Southern Orthopaedics Specialists, a full service orthopaedic practice specializing in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine. Southern Orthopaedics Specialists has multiple locations around the Atlanta Metro area where doctors, physicians, Atlanta orthopedic surgeons and medical staff help patients live and perform at the peak of their physical ability. Decades of experience, education and research means that all your needs for orthopedic doctors in Atlanta are covered, from cartilage restoration to spine care and sports medicine.

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