The process of spine surgery involves preparation for the procedure, the procedure itself, and the recovery phase. If you are considering surgery or if surgery is scheduled, be sure to avoid medications that are considered blood thinners. These include but are not limited to:
The most common blood thinners that people take, sometimes without knowing it, are aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications. Before surgery, discontinue all use of aspirin, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, and similar medications for a week before your procedure. It should be noted that aspirin can even be found in unlikely products, such as BC powders and Pepto Bismol. Some practitioners also will want you to stop taking Vitamin E. Consult with your doctor before the surgery to make sure that you are off all blood thinners.
The day prior to surgery it is important to try to stay clean and dry. It would be beneficial to wipe the area that will be operated on with an antibiotic wipe several times the day before surgery and the day or morning of surgery. Avoid shaving the area where the surgery is to be performed prior to the operation as well. It is important not to have anything to eat or drink on the day of an operation and to avoid chewing tobacco the day of the operation. Generally, it is okay to take your normal medications with a sip of water, but after midnight the day before surgery, you should refrain from eating or drinking anything else.
On the day of the surgery, you will come to the hospital or ambulatory surgery center. After registration, you will be transferred to the operating room. Depending on the surgery, an anesthetic agent will be given, and the surgery will be performed.
Afterward, you will spend some time in the recovery room or sometimes in the hospital depending on the procedure and the findings that are noted in the operating room.
After surgery, it’s important to be patient with your body. A good idea would be to use a gentle stool softener or laxative and to avoid any heavy lifting, bending, twisting, squatting, or athletic maneuvers for at least a couple of weeks. We advise patients to avoid any activity that results in heavy perspiration as this can sometimes cause trouble with wound healing. We generally recommend patients put some rubbing alcohol on the incision once or twice a day and try to lay in bed with the pressure off of the wound.
For example, if a person has had back surgery, it would be a good idea to lay on your side for the most part.
Be on the lookout after surgery for any signs of complication. Call your provider’s office if you have a fever, any swelling in the calves or lower extremities, weakness, trouble swallowing and/or trouble speaking, or difficulty with your respirations. Do not ever hesitate to call the doctor’s office if you have concerns!
After several weeks have passed you may be a candidate for physical therapy or return to activity. This will be directed by your practitioner.
Everyone knows that surgery entails risk. It is important that if you or a loved one are considering surgery to have a discussion with your surgeon about the risks and potential benefits of any operation. Generally, after surgery patients do well but occasionally problems occur. The risks of any surgery include but are not limited to:
- Spinal fluid leakage
- Blood clots
- Anesthetic complications
- Circulatory system difficulty
- Nerve damage and/or injury
- Hardware complication
- Heart attack
Fortunately, these risks and complications are rare but are increased when patients have underlying medical issues including but not limited to: diabetes, heart disease, pulmonary disease, and any other medical problem that slows down healing including COVID-19 and its aftereffects. It’s important to talk with your doctor about these risks and have a good understanding of them before proceeding with any surgery.