Being prepared for surgery, both before and after the procedure, is important. Here are some common questions about surgery, answered by hand surgeon Steve Zachary, DO, FAOAO, MS.
Can I eat and drink before my procedure?
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure, unless an anesthesiologist or a nurse from the surgery center instructs you otherwise. This includes food, liquid, water, candy, gum, antacid tablets/liquid and chewing tobacco. Do not smoke after midnight before your procedure. If you are advised to take medicine the morning of your procedure, please do so with a small sip of water.
You are asked to refrain from eating and/or drinking prior to a surgical procedure in order to prevent the risks of aspirating gastric contents during your procedure (i.e. throwing up stomach contents that could interfere with your breathing). This complication is very serious, and you need to strictly abide by our recommendations. Failure to comply may result in the cancellation of your procedure for your own safety.
What time is my procedure?
Due to the ever-changing surgical procedure schedule, procedure times are established and confirmed the day prior to your procedure. Our nursing staff will call you the day before your procedure between 1 and 3 p.m. to tell you both the time of your procedure as well as the time to arrive at the facility. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your doctor.
Why do I need to arrive so far ahead of my procedure time?
This time allows for you to meet with your physician, your anesthesia team (if applicable), as well as work with nursing staff in getting you ready for the procedure.
What if I am sick or need to cancel my procedure?
Please call your physician’s office as soon as you can. It is important that you are healthy before your procedure to aid in your recovery.
What should I wear?
Please wear comfortable clothes. Button-down shirts or blouses are best. Wear comfortable shoes. Leave all jewelry at home, including body-piercings. If you wear contact lenses, consider bringing your glasses or your contact case. Please do not wear any make-up, and remove your fingernail polish.
Do I need a ride home?
You must have a responsible adult take you home if you receive anesthesia or sedation. It is important to make arrangements for a ride home well in advance of your procedure. If you do not have a ride home, your case will be cancelled. This policy is in place for your safety. Your ride should be readily available and should be in the facility when your procedure is complete.
I take medicines on a daily basis. Which ones should I take before my procedure?
Our pre-admission nurse will inform you which medications to take before surgery and which ones must be stopped during your pre-admission interview. It is important to inform your physician and the pre-admission nurse which medicines you take, including herbal medications.
What happens after my procedure?
After your procedure, you will be moved to our fully-equipped recovery room, where you will remain under close observation by our recovery room nurses and the anesthesiologist (if applicable) until you are ready to go home. Your recovery room nurse will provide post-surgery instructions regarding diet, rest and medications.
How will I feel?
Patients may feel a bit groggy, light-headed, dizzy, sore and slightly nauseated. How you feel depends on the complexity of your procedure, how long you were in the operating room, your pain threshold, and what type of anesthesia you were given. Each person responds differently to surgery and the effects of anesthesia.
When will my discharge instructions be discussed?
Due to the wide variety of surgical procedures done in our facility, discharge teaching begins before your procedure and will be reinforced after your procedure during your recovery phase. We ask that a friend or family member be available at the time these instructions are given. Should you have any questions after you have left the facility, feel free to contact us.
How soon can I return home?
Once your vital signs are normal, you feel comfortable and alert, and your nurse and anesthesiologist ( if applicable) determine that your condition meets all discharge criteria, you may return home. You may not, however, be completely pain- or nausea-free. Your physician will provide you with any prescriptions for medication you may need at home.
What should I do when I get home?
To hasten your recovery, we recommend that you rest comfortably as soon as you get home. Patients typically feel sleepy most of the day. You may begin your regular diet and resume normal activity when you and your physician determine you are ready. The day after your procedure, a nurse from the facility may call you to find out how you are doing.
What should I do if I have a problem?
If you have questions or concerns following your procedure, please contact your physician’s office. If you feel your condition is an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility.
Learn more about hand surgical procedures at www.HandCare.org.