Preparing for Surgery & Procedure

Preparing for Surgery
(Some of this pertains more to major joint surgery, however most of the general points hold for any surgery)

Once you and your Doctor decide that surgery will help you, you’ll need to learn what to expect from the surgery and create a treatment plan for the best results afterward. Preparing mentally and physically for surgery is an important step toward a successful result. Understanding the process and your role in it will help you recover more quickly and have fewer problems.

Working with Your Doctor

Before surgery, your doctor will perform a general assessment to make sure you don’t have any conditions that could interfere with the surgery or the outcomes. Routine tests, such as blood tests and X-rays, are organised prior to any major surgery.

  • Certain medications you are taking may need to be withheld prior to surgery. Anti-inflammatory drugs are best ceased four days prior to surgery. Aspirin, warfarin and other blood thinners should usually be ceased 4 to 8 days prior, however this needs to be discussed and individualised for the person and the situation
  • Most of your usual medications should be continued
  • Alternative or "natural" medications should be ceased prior to surgery as they can interfere with blood clotting and liver function
  • Discuss with your doctor options for preparing for potential blood replacement, medical interventions and other treatments, prior to surgery
  • If you are overweight, losing weight before surgery will help decrease the stress you place on your new joint. However, you should not diet during the month before your surgery
  • If you smoke, you should stop or cut down to reduce your surgery risks and improve your recovery
  • Have any tooth, gum, bladder or bowel problems treated before surgery to reduce the risk of infection later
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Supplementation with a daily multivitamin with iron is unlikely to be harmful. Lots of people are Vitamin D deficient, and supplementation with Vitamin D3 tablets can be helpful for bone health
  • Report any infections to your surgeon. Surgery cannot be performed until all infections have cleared up
  • Keep your skin clean and free of cuts and abrasions.
  • Shower at least daily and attend to bodily hygiene. Wash and dry all body parts well, including perineum and toes
  • Eliminate any thrush or tinea in skin folds
  • Arrange for someone to help out with everyday tasks like cooking, shopping and laundry
  • Put items that you use often within easy reach before surgery so you won’t have to reach and bend as often
  • Remove all loose carpets and tape down electrical cords to avoid falls
  • Make sure you have a stable chair with a firm seat cushion, a firm back and two arms
  • If you are having major lower limb surgery, a walk-in shower with grab-rails, and a raised toilet seat are particularly important. Special sliding seats can be purchased for baths, if that is the only option
  • In some cases, an admission to the Mater Rehabilitation Unit post-operatively can be a useful stepping stone to getting home safely
  • Pre-operative knee exercises can be helpful leading up to a knee replacement. Occasionally an admission to the Rehabilitation Unit pre-operatively can be arranged

Preparing for Day Surgery Procedure

If you are having Day Surgery, remember the following:

  • Have someone available to take you home, you should not drive for at least 24 hours. Prior to driving you should be clear-headed, and physically capable of safe and responsible driving. Beware of the effects of anaesthesia, pain medications, and your surgical procedure on your driving capability. You should only drive when you can honestly say you feel fit to do so, and when you won’t damage your operation by driving
  • Beware drinking or eating in the car on the trip home. It is probably best avoided for a short trip. For a longer trip it will be important to keep up water intake
  • The combination of anaesthesia, food, and car motion can quite often cause nausea or vomiting. Once you are feeling hungry it is probably safe to eat. Begin with a light meal and try to avoid greasy food for the first 24 hours
  • Beware blood clots! Long car trips carry some risks. Being cramped and immobile following surgery increases the risks. Keep moving in the seat. Keep doing foot, ankle, calf, thigh and buttock exercises. Don’t wear tight clothing and try to keep stretching. Have frequent stops and get out and have short walks if possible. Try and elevate the injured/operated part. When you get home, go and have a lie down and elevate your legs
  • Take your pain medicine as directed. Simple paracetamol can be very useful if taken regularly. Stronger medications, including anti-inflammatories can be prescribed if necessary. Begin the pain medicine as you start getting uncomfortable, but before you are in severe pain. If you wait to take your pain medication until the pain is severe, you will have more difficulty controlling the pain