Discharge Instructions for Lumbar Fusion Surgery

(Anterior, Posterior, Anterior and Posterior)

Peer Reviewed

Medical discharge papers with a doctors stethoscopeThese discharge instructions are printed with permission from Todd J. Albert, M.D. of the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University. Discharge instructions and recommendations may vary per institution, be sure to ask your doctor.

1. Check incision twice a day for the following: Green/yellow discharge. Increased redness and/or tenderness at incision site. Opening of the incision. Flu-like symptoms. Temperature above 101.5 degrees. If any of the above should occur, please contact your doctor.

2. Your bandages will most likely be removed before you leave the hospital, if not, they should be removed 24 to 36 hours after surgery.

3. You may shower after the bandages are removed. It is recommended that a shower chair be used for the first few weeks to ensure your safety. (This will be arranged for you before your discharge, if required).

4. The incisions should be cleaned gently using regular soap and water. Do NOT use heavily perfumed soaps. RUB GENTLY!

5. If you were given a brace to wear postoperatively, it should be worn whenever you are up and out of bed. It should NOT be worn at night while you are sleeping. If you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night you do NOT need to put it on.

6. You should NOT drive until seen in the office for your first postoperative visit. You may be a passenger for short distances (20-30 minutes). If you must travel for a longer period, be sure to make several pit stops so that you can stretch your legs. Reclining the passenger seat will be the most comfortable position for you.

7. Do NOT sit for periods longer than 20-30 minutes. You may increase this time as you become more comfortable.


  • Lift anything greater than 10 lbs.
  • Bend or twist at the waist

9. DO walk as much as possible. Stairs are good for you, but take it slow. You may also use a treadmill. No running. If you were discharged using a walker and/or cane, you may stop using these assistive devices once you feel safe and comfortable.

10. If your incisions have sutures or staples, they may be removed weeks following your surgery by a visiting nurse, you family physician, or by making an appointment with the hospital.

To learn about Dr. Albert’s practice, click here.

Updated on: 09/20/16
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Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Center
Mary Rodts, DNP
The guidelines in this article are important. Some surgeons require that a bandage remain on the incision for two to five days after the surgery. During this time it is important for your wound to remain clean and dry. Your surgeon and nurse will give you specific information regarding wound care.
Christopher P. Silveri, MD, FAAOS
The above "instructions" are general guidelines used to educate patients after certain spinal procedures. Although these specifically relate to the patients at Thomas Jefferson University, they remain useful to our SpineUniverse audience and serve as examples as to what one might expect at other institutions. Please discuss these issues and topics with your treating surgeon as the instructions may vary considerably.
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