What to Expect on the Day of Outpatient Spine Surgery

To make your spine surgery as easy as possible, it is good to know what to pack and wear, which medications you can or cannot take, when to stop eating/drinking, and what to expect when you arrive at the outpatient surgery center. The following tips can help you prepare for surgery day.
man at home folding clothes on a bedWhat to Wear and Pack on the Day of Surgery
Wear loose-fitting clothes that are easy to change into and out of. Shoes that slip off are best so that you can easily put them on after surgery and don’t have to bend down to tie laces.

  • If you are staying overnight, pack pajamas, slippers, toiletries (eg, toothbrush/ toothpaste), cell phone charger, glasses, hearing aids, and dentures.
  • Don’t wear or bring: Leave jewelry, earrings, and watches at home. You may want to remove your rings the night before surgery in case your fingers are swollen in the morning.

The Evening Before Your Surgery
An outpatient spine surgery center staff member will most likely call you the evening before your surgery to confirm your spinal procedure and tell you what time to arrive at the center. Follow your surgeon’s instructions on which medications to stop taking the day (or days) before surgery.

Medications your surgeon may ask you to stop:

  • Blood pressure pills
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (prescription and/or over-the-counter)
  • Blood thinning drugs (eg, warfarin [Coumadin])

In most cases, you are instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. If you are to be admitted the morning of your surgery, do not eat any solid foods after 9 pm or drink any liquids, even water, after midnight.

Your surgeon may advise you to take an enema the evening before surgery.

Admission to an Outpatient Spine Surgery Center

  • When you enter the outpatient spine surgery center, the medical staff reviews your medical history, surgeon’s reports, and your adherence to presurgical instructions (eg, medications stopped).
  • Your vital signs are checked (and rechecked), and an intravenous line (IV) is started.
  • Different drugs, including some anesthetics (pain medications), may be given through the IV.
  • At the appropriate time, you will be wheeled into the operating room (OR).

You will be “put to sleep” either in the preoperative area or in the OR. In the OR, the anesthesiologist monitors all your vital signs (eg, respiration, blood pressure) during the entire surgical procedure.

Following surgery, you wake up in the recovery area where medical staff continue to closely monitor your pulse, respiration, blood pressure, pain level, and other vital signs. Postoperative pain is usually managed by administering medication through your IV.

If your procedure allows you to go home the same day, medical staff provides you with written instructions to follow. The instructions include information about oral pain medications, permitted activities and those to avoid, how to resume a normal diet, and a telephone number to call should assistance be needed after discharge from the outpatient spinal surgery center.

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Updated on: 10/21/16
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Outpatient Spine Surgery Centers: What to Know Before You Go