Once you and Dr. Irby have made the decision that spinal surgery is the right option for you, you will most likely have many questions about what to expect. The following information has been compiled to help alleviate some of your and your family’s fears, and provide an overview of what to expect before, during and after your operation. Dr. Irby will also discuss what to expect and cover any important information during your appointments leading up to the day of surgery. As always, if you have any unanswered questions then don’t hesitate to discuss them with our staff.
Before Your Spinal Surgery
Prior to surgery, you will need to be medically cleared by having a History and Physical (H&P). This will be done either by your primary care physician (PCP) or by Lindsey, Dr. Irby’s Physician Assistant. Dr. Irby will decide this and let you know during your visit. If your PCP will be clearing you, please take this form with you to that visit. A copy of this form will also be given to you during your visit. If Lindsey will be clearing you, you will be given an appointment to come back and see her for your H&P. Prior to this visit, you may fill out this form and bring it with you or you can fill it out in the waiting room.
Once you have been medically cleared, you will be scheduled for Pre-Admission Testing (PAT) at the hospital. This can consist of blood work, urine collection, x-rays, and/or an EKG depending on your age and past medical history. At this visit, a nurse will also go over many of the same questions that you have already answered for Lindsey or your PCP during your H&P. The hospital will call you to discuss appointment availabilities.
Their office is located at the rear of the hospital. You should come in the “outpatient surgery” door and proceed to the first door on your left after the vending machines. You will not be able to proceed with surgery without having the necessary tests completed ahead of time. Please be sure to follow all instructions given to you during this appointment.
Patients who will be undergoing a lumbar fusion with or without fixation are also asked to attend one or our “spine camp’s” which will walk you and your personal “coach” through what to expect during your stay in the hospital. Because these patients will also be required to wear a brace for 3 months following surgery, you will also be given instructions on how to adjust your normal daily activities so as not to harm yourself during recovery.
The Day of Surgery
During your PAT appointment you will be given a phone number to call a day or two before your surgery to let you know what time to arrive the day of your surgery. Once your surgery day has arrived, please drive around to the rear of the hospital where you will once again find the “outpatient surgery” entrance (pictured to the right). There is parking for you here, as well as a waiting room, which is located inside the first door on your right once you enter the hospital. Please wait in this waiting room until a nurse comes to take you back to prepare for your surgery. Families of those patients having a microdiscectomy or lumbar laminectomy can wait in this waiting room since they will not be staying overnight.
Because decompressive laminectomies and lumbar fusions with or without fixation require a longer operation and hospital stay, these families are asked to wait in the family waiting lounge located on the 3rd floor.
Once you are taken back to the pre-op area, you will again be asked many of the same questions you have already answered during the initial stages of preparing for surgery. A nurse will take your vital signs and may collect some blood work. You will also be given an IV so we can give you medication before and during your surgery.
You will then be taken to the pre-op holding area and asked to change into a hospital gown.
While you are here, Dr. Irby and Lindsey, as well as the anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist will come see you. If you are having epidural anesthesia (common for the microdiscectomy, lumbar laminectomy and decompressive laminectomy), it will be administered here.
After The Surgery is Complete
Many patients having a microdiscectomy or lumbar laminectomy go home from here because they are feeling so well and want to be in their own surroundings with their own bed. You must be able to hold down food and medicine, urinate, walk, and not be running a fever in order to go home. If you are unable to go home, you will be taken to your room on the 3rd floor. Those patients who have had a decompressive laminectomy or lumbar fusion with or without fixation will be taken to their room on the 3rd floor.
The 3rd floor has been designed similar to a hotel to provide patients and their families with a comfortable and relaxing place to begin the recovery process. In your room there will be a private bathroom, complete with a shower, as well as a fold out Murphy bed that can accommodate one overnight guest. There is a dining room on the 3rd floor for patients and their families.
The day of surgery, a nurse will help you get out of bed and walk. It will be difficult because you will feel stiff and may have some back pain because of the surgery itself, but walking will help all of this improve. The day following surgery you will begin physical therapy with one of the therapists at the hospital.
When you leave the hospital, you will be given a list of discharge instructions, a prescription for pain medication, and an appointment to see Lindsey approximately 10-14 days after surgery. During the first appointment following surgery, you will most likely have your stitches or staples removed. If you had a microdiscectomy, lumbar laminectomy, or decompressive laminectomy, you will be given a prescription for physical therapy. If you had a lumbar fusion with or without fixation, we will take some x-rays so we can follow the fusion’s progression over the next few months. Driving and work status will be discussed during this visit.