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How to Prepare for Spine Surgery

Aug 20, 2014

It’s normal to be nervous before any type of surgery, including spinal surgery. By following these tips on how to best prepare for the surgery, patients can not only help out the surgeon and hospital staff but can also reassure themselves that they did all they could to prepare.

Consider Donating Blood

As with most other types of surgeries, patients should expect to lose blood during the surgery. Some spinal surgeries such as a spinal fusion require the patient to have a blood transfusion. Patients with rare blood types should consider donating their own blood to be used on themselves during spine surgery. Surgeons may request that the patient undergo a blood test to make sure that the blood is healthy enough for banking.

No patient weighing less than 100 pounds can safely give blood. Friends and family members with the same blood type can donate blood if their blood is considered healthy enough for the patient. All blood to be banked needs to be donated at least four weeks before the patient’s surgery.

Avoid Getting the Flu

No one should undergo surgery when they are suffering from the flu. Influenza is highly contagious. In the time before surgery, patients are highly encouraged to avoid anyone who seems to have the flu. People can have the flu for hours or days before showing symptoms.

Caretakers of patients about to have spinal surgery should get a flu shot to help lessen the chances for the patient getting the flu. Patients, especially children and the elderly, should get an annual flu shot. If patients do this and still get the flu right before surgery, contact the surgeon’s office immediately. It may be best to postpone the surgery until the patient feels better.

No Food or Drinks after Midnight

Most spine surgeries require the patient to undergo general anesthesia. There is a danger of vomiting while under anesthesia. This can cause lethal choking. This is why patients are urged to not eat or drink anything – or even chew a stick of gum – after midnight on the night before their surgery.

This is a general rule and may differ depending upon the individual’s health, type of surgery and when the surgery is to take place. Be sure to check the surgeon’s office for details.

Shave Back If Necessary

Patients prone to growing hair on their backs should have their backs shaved the day before surgery or even the day of surgery. This is not a big problem if the patient forgets to shave, for hospital staff will shave the area before surgery. However, some patients prefer to shave the hair off themselves or have a trusted friend do it. The choice is up to the patient.

Cut Off Medications

Make sure surgeons and their office staff have a recent list of all patient medications. Some of these medications may need to be stopped in the days or weeks before the surgery to prevent complications during the surgery. These medications include blood thinners and aspirin. Patients should ask surgeons if they need to pack medications to take during their hospital stay. It may not be necessary to pack any medications as they may come under the daily post-op care of patients. It never hurts to ask.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.