Before Surgery - Nebraska Spine Hospital (2023)

  • Pre-Operative Visit and Testing
  • Planning Your Visit
  • What About My Medications?
  • Preparation Day Before Surgery
  • Preparing Your Home for a Safe Return
  • Tobacco
(Video) Nebraska Spine Hospital - Pre-Op Area Before Surgery

Before Surgery

Prior to surgery you will have a variety of preoperative tests, either at your primary care provider’s office or at the Nebraska Spine Hospital. At this appointment you will receive special instructions about how to prepare for your procedure, and how to plan for your recovery. If your preoperative visit is at Nebraska Spine Hospital you will have the opportunity to meet with our nurse navigator who will guide you and your family through your spine surgery.

Prior to your surgery you will receive a phone call from our financial counselor to ensure that all of your details are in order and to guide you through the paperwork.

Pre-Operative Visit and Testing

Hospital Visit/Tests may include: blood tests, urine test, electrocardiogram (ECG), chest x-ray, cardiac stress test, CT scan(s) of spine.

  • Meeting with the Anesthesiologist – This is the doctor who puts you to sleep during surgery. If you have any questions regarding the medicines involved in this process, be sure to ask this physician.
  • The Anesthesiologist will let you know which of your routine medications you are able to take the morning of surgery.
  • This visit may last from 1-3 hours in length depending on the tests ordered.

Physical Examination

  • A physical will be done by a Doctor (not the Spine Surgeon) before surgery to ensure that your body can tolerate surgery.
  • Some Doctors may want to do the blood tests, etc. in their office. If these are completed in the doctor’s office, you will still visit the hospital to meet with the Anesthesiologist and get instructions for surgery.
(Video) Nebraska Spine Hospital - Medications Before Surgery

What About My Medications?

Before Your Hospital Admission

  • Provide a current and accurate list of medications to your Surgeon and Doctor performing you pre-surgical physical (including any over the counter meds and herbal supplements)
  • Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory medication two weeks before surgery (including Advil, Motrin, Aleve) and for up 3-4 months after surgery. These medications can inhibit bone fusion.

(Video) Nebraska Spine Hospital - Preparation the Day Before Surgery

Preparation Day Before Surgery

Skin Scrub

  • Bathe and shampoo your hair the evening before surgery.
  • Sleep on clean sheets.
  • Remove nail polish before surgery. Your Doctor may have you scrub your skin with a special soap to decrease the risk of infection.
    • The area of focus depends on the surgical procedure being performed.
    • You may need help from a family member.
    • Use small circular motions for 15 minutes the evening before and the morning of surgery.
  • If you have any sores or irritated skin areas, notify your Physician before surgery.

Diet/Routine Medications

  • If surgery is scheduled for morning, stop eating and drinking at midnight the night before (including water, coffee, gum, breath mints, etc.)
  • If surgery, is scheduled for afternoon, you may be allowed to drink fluids until the early morning.
  • An empty stomach helps decrease the risk of having an upset stomach and vomiting.
  • The Anesthesiologist will specify when to stop eating and drinking.
  • On the morning of surgery, brush your teeth and wash up. Do not swallow any water.
  • You may be instructed to take some medications on the day of surgery, take the pills with a small sip of water just enough to be able to swallow the pills.
  • Bowel Preparation – Your Doctor may order a bowel preparation solution to drink the afternoon prior to surgery.


  • All jewelry, makeup, and nail polish must be removed prior to surgery. If you have artificial nails, at least one must be removed for oxygen monitoring.
  • Any jewelry with you the morning of surgery will need to be given to family members.
  • If you have a ring that you can not get off or do not wish to remove, ask the nurses to tape it securely to your finger.
  • Please leave all valuables at home.

(Video) Nebraska Spine Hospital - Preparing for Surgery

Preparing Your Home for a Safe Return

Before coming to the Hospital for Surgery:

  • Find a friend/loved one to help you for at least a week when you return home. If you need help finding someone, a Social Worker can assist you in making other arrangements.
  • Remove any tripping hazards such as throw rugs, extension cords, or phone cords.
  • Have a plan for your pets.
  • Make meals and freeze them.
  • Clean your house and do the laundry.
  • Make sure walkways, stairs, and hallways are well lit and free of clutter.
  • If you do not have a shower, install a handheld shower hose that attaches to the tub faucet.


Research has shown that nicotine is associated with poor surgical spine fusion outcomes, and it negatively affects the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems which impacts recovery after surgery.

Depending on your Surgeon, you may be required to be nicotine free.

  • This includes cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and nicotine replacement gum or patches.
  • Your Surgeon may require that you be nicotine free for at least 2 weeks prior to surgery (unless you have shown rapid neurological deterioration).
  • Once you are nicotine free for 2 weeks, the office will schedule you for a urine nicotine test.
  • If the test is negative, the Nurse will discuss a surgery date.
  • You will be re-tested for nicotine at the time of the pre-operative blood work.
  • If the test is positive, your surgery will be cancelled.


What should I do before spinal surgery? ›

One Month Before Surgery

Get plenty of exercise so that you are in good shape for surgery. The better physical shape you are in prior to surgery, the smoother the recovery process will be. If you smoke, you may need to stop smoking because of the risks related to anesthesia and the healing process.

What questions to ask before spinal surgery? ›

Questions to ask your doctor about spinal surgery
  • Why is this type of surgery recommended?
  • Are there different methods for doing this surgery?
  • How will this surgery help my spinal condition?
  • Is there any harm in waiting?
  • Am I too young or too old for spinal surgery?
Dec 9, 2021

What are the rules before surgery? ›

Do not eat or drink anything for at least eight hours before your scheduled surgery. Do not chew gum or use any tobacco products. Leave jewelry and other valuables at home. Take out removable teeth prior to transfer to the operating room and do not wear glasses or contact lenses in the OR.

What is the best spine hospital in the United States? ›

Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center has been awarded:

America's 100 Best Spine Surgery™ For the years (2023, 2022, 2021) America's 50 Best Hospitals Award™ For the years (2023, 2022, 2021)

Is spinal surgery high risk? ›

As with all types of surgery, there's a risk of dying during or after lumbar decompression surgery, although this is rare. A blood clot, a bad reaction to the anaesthetic and blood loss can all be life-threatening.

How long does spinal surgery usually take? ›

It relieves pressure on the nerves and decreases symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pain and weakness. Surgery will last approximately 2 to 3 hours.

What is the most painful spinal surgery? ›

Spinal fusion

This process connects two or more vertebrae to stop them moving against each other. Sometimes, surgery will involve a bone graft. This is when bone is taken from the hip and put into the spine to help the vertebrae fuse together. Bone grafts may cause significant and even chronic pain following surgery.

How long does it take to walk after spinal surgery? ›

You'll be encouraged to walk and move around the day after surgery and it's likely you'll be discharged 1 to 4 days afterwards. It will take about 4 to 6 weeks for you to reach your expected level of mobility and function (this will depend on the severity of your condition and symptoms before the operation).

Are you put to sleep for spine surgery? ›

Awake spine surgery is an alternative for people who can't tolerate or don't want general anesthesia. With perks that include a shorter hospital stay and an easier recovery, awake spine surgery means more people can get the spine surgery they need.

What should you not do 7 days before surgery? ›

Please stop taking all herbal remedies, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Naproxen, etc.) seven days prior to surgery unless otherwise instructed. However, it is okay to take Tylenol (acetaminophen) if something is needed for pain.

What should you not do a week before surgery? ›

Do not take herbal supplements, including vitamin E and Fish Oil, one week before surgery. Do not take anti-inflammatories (such as ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Daypro, Aleve, Naprosyn, naproxen, etc.) for five days prior to surgery, or as instructed by your surgeon. Do not shave the operative site for 48 hours prior.

What is the best day to have surgery? ›

Day of the Week
  • First, doctors may be more available and less busy during the weekdays.
  • Second, while many people might have work, it can ensure they won't miss their scheduled procedures due to important events or things popping up on weekends or holidays.
Apr 11, 2022

How long is the hospital stay for spinal surgery? ›

A traditional spinal fusion surgery with general anesthesia takes about four hours and requires a hospital stay of three to four days as well as IV painkillers. The awake spine surgery takes half the time and typically has patients out of the hospital within 24 hours.

What is the easiest spine surgery? ›

Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is a type of surgery on the bones of your spine (backbone). This type of surgery uses smaller incisions than standard surgery. This often causes less harm to nearby muscles and other tissues. It can lead to less pain and faster recovery after surgery.

Is there an age limit for spinal surgery? ›

No, there is no hard and fast age limit for spinal surgery. Because both elderly patients and young people can be afflicted with spinal issues, age is not the primary deciding factor in whether or not spinal surgery is an option.

How painful is spinal surgery? ›

Myth #3: Recovery from spine surgery is unbearably painful.

In general, pain is usually the worst during the first one to three days after the surgery. After that, it should begin to subside. You may feel some mild to moderate pain for up to six weeks after the surgery, but you should not feel severe pain.

What are the chances of paralysis from spinal surgery? ›

Operating on the spine involves performing surgery near the spinal cord and nerve roots. Potentially, damage could occur to these structures, even damage severe enough as to lead to paralysis. However, severe side effects paralysis after back surgery is exceedingly rare, to the tune of 1 in tens of thousands.

What is the success rate of spine surgery? ›

Depending on the condition the surgery is treating, spinal fusion has a 70 to 90% success rate.

How long is bed rest after spinal surgery? ›

You don't need to fear being bed-ridden for weeks after spinal surgery, since it's of the utmost importance to your post-surgical recovery to get up very soon. Movement is critical to proper healing after spinal surgery, so you can expect to get out of bed the same day or the very next day after surgery.

Can you walk again after spinal surgery? ›

The qualified answer to this question is yes, a person can walk again after suffering a spinal cord injury. This is possible because the spinal cord is capable of reorganizing itself and making adaptive changes through a process known as neuroplasticity.

How do you wipe after back surgery? ›

While wiping, bend from the knees rather than at the hips. A long- handled device may help to reach all areas. 4. The use of pre-moistened, flushable wipes is strongly recommended.

What is the fastest way to recover from spinal surgery? ›

You might need to see a physical therapist for a few weeks to help you recover from surgery. They can show you some exercises that speed your healing and help prevent injuries. Walking is good, but go slow at first. Gradually pick up the pace and go a longer distance each time out.

What helps pain from spinal surgery? ›

A combination of narcotic medications, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammation medications can provide better pain control. Anti-inflammatory medications are not used for any type of fusion surgery, however, such as an ACDF or lumbar fusion. Ice and cool therapies can reduce the postoperative pain and swelling.

Is spinal surgery major surgery? ›

What is Spinal Fusion Surgery? Spinal fusion is a major surgery and medical procedure used to treat back injuries. The surgery includes using rods and screws, and bone grafts to stabilize the spine. This surgery is usually a last resort after other treatments have been tried and failed.

Is it better to lay down or sit after back surgery? ›

The right way to sleep after back surgery

The best position to sleep in after spine surgery is lying flat on your back, placing a pillow below your knees or lying sideways with a pillow between your bent knees.

Do you need a walker after spinal surgery? ›

You will need an assistance device such as a walker or cane for the first week; however, you should strive to limit the use of this device after the first two to three weeks when you are on stable ground. By the end of the first month, you should be able to walk one mile without your assistance device.

How do you sleep after spinal surgery? ›

Doctors recommend sleeping on your back or your side as you heal from spine surgery. Sleeping on your belly is generally not recommended because your spine is not in a neutral position for a prolonged period. Consider wearing satin pajamas to bed to help it make it easier for you to adjust your sleeping position.

How long does it take to wake up from spinal anesthesia? ›

It can take a few hours before the spinal anaesthetic wears off and normal feeling returns. As it wears off, you may feel a tingling sensation in the areas that were previously numb. It is important to ask for help from the ward nurse to help get out of bed when the spinal first wears off.

What position are you in for spinal surgery? ›

The prone position is often used for spine and neck surgeries, neurosurgery, colorectal surgeries, vascular surgeries, and tendon repairs.

What do you wear during spinal surgery? ›

Loose and comfortable clothes. Consider the type of spine surgery that you are having when choosing clothes to bring to the hospital. If your surgery requires you to wear a lumbar brace, we recommend a cotton T-shirt to wear under your brace and, if you would like, a comfortable shirt to wear over your lumbar brace.

What is the safest day to have surgery? ›

Avoid Weekend Surgeries

According to a British Medical Journal study, patients who underwent surgery on Fridays were 44% more likely to have complications than those who underwent surgery on a Monday.

What is the best thing to eat the day before surgery? ›

It is recommended to maintain a clear liquid diet the day before the surgery, here are some of the liquids allowed:
  • Water.
  • Clear broths (chicken or beef)
  • Juices (apple or cider)
  • White grape juice.
  • Tea (with no milk or honey)
  • Coffee (no milk or creamer)
  • Jell-O (without fruit/no red Jell-O)
  • Popsicles (without fruit/cream)
Dec 21, 2019

Can I brush my teeth before surgery? ›

Can I brush my teeth the morning of surgery? Yes. You may brush your teeth and swish with a small amount of water to rinse.

What foods to avoid 2 weeks before surgery? ›

During the two weeks leading up to surgery, you should avoid eating fish or taking fish oil or omega-3 supplements. Omega-3 fats can interfere with blood clotting and increase bleeding during surgery. You should even avoid some spices for the same reason, including two common ones: garlic and ginger.

What should you not do the night before surgery? ›

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes water, coffee, gum, or mints. If you do, it may be necessary to cancel your surgery. Do not smoke or use chewing tobacco after midnight the night before your surgery.

Should I shower morning before surgery? ›

Before surgery, you can play an important role in your health. Because skin is not sterile, you can reduce the number of germs on your skin by carefully washing before surgery. Please follow these instructions. IMPORTANT: You will need to shower with a special soap called chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG).

What day is the hardest after surgery? ›

Pain and swelling: Incision pain and swelling are often worst on day 2 and 3 after surgery. The pain should slowly get better during the next 1 to 2 weeks. Mild itching is common as the incision heals.

How do they wake you up from anesthesia? ›

The process of waking up from anesthesia is known as emergence. During emergence, the anesthesiologist will slowly reduce the amount of anesthetic drugs in the body. This helps to reduce the intensity of the effects of anesthesia and allows the patient to regain consciousness.

What should you do the morning before surgery? ›

What to Expect on the day of Surgery
  • Follow instructions about not eating or drinking. ...
  • If your doctor told you to take any medicine on the day of surgery, take it with a small sip of water.
  • Brush your teeth or rinse your mouth but spit out all of the water.
  • Take a shower or bath.
Aug 22, 2022

What do I need to bring to the hospital for back surgery? ›

For your comfort, you will want to bring your own toiletries to the hospital. Also pack underwear and comfortable, loose pajamas or nightgowns. You will also need a robe (not floor length), and slippers or soft, low-heeled shoes with closed backs, such as sneakers, walking shoes, or loafers.

How do you know when it's time for spine surgery? ›

Some signs that indicate it's time to consider spine surgery can include: Pain that is persistent and progressive. If the pain caused by a back condition lingers beyond a few months and/or appears to be getting progressively worse. Numbness, tingling, weakness.

Who is not a candidate for spine surgery? ›

You may not be able to have minimally invasive spine surgery if you have extensive epidural scarring, an active infection, or severe osteoporosis.

What is the most common spine surgery? ›

Spinal decompression and fusion: It is the most common spine surgery performed in the U.S., and it's performed to take pressure off of “pinched” nerves and/or the spinal cord and to stabilize the spine.

Who is best for spine surgery? ›

Orthopedic Surgeons

Orthopedists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of almost all bone and joint disorders, such as: Spinal disorders.

Should I avoid spine surgery? ›

One of the primary reasons why back surgery should be avoided is the risk. All surgeries carry the risk of infection, excessive bleeding, and nerve injury. Not to mention many people don't like being put under general anesthesia or that they may have to use potentially addictive pills to manage the pain after surgery.

Can you live a normal life after spinal surgery? ›

Recovery time for spinal fusion surgery varies significantly from patient to patient, but the average spans between three and six months before the patient is back to their daily routine; working, traveling, and even exercising with more freedom and less pain than they could before the surgery.

What should you not do before spinal surgery? ›

DON'T takenonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This includes ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. “You should stop taking them a week before surgery,” Girardi says. They can thin your blood, which raises your risk of problems during surgery.

How do you physically prepare for spinal fusion surgery? ›

7 Tips to Prepare for Spinal Fusion
  1. How to Prepare for Spinal Fusion Surgery. ...
  2. Quit smoking. ...
  3. Discuss your medications and supplements. ...
  4. Eat healthy—and get plenty of fiber. ...
  5. Move your bed downstairs. ...
  6. Prepare your kitchen. ...
  7. Obtain helpful durable medical equipment (DME). ...
  8. Enlist the help of family members and friends.

How do you mentally prepare for back surgery? ›

In preparing for back surgery, a patient can be taught to identify negative thinking and develop challenging or coping thoughts to counteract it (a method called "Stop-Challenge-Reframe"): Quickly identify the negative automatic thoughts when they occur. Challenge them through a self-questioning process.

How many days rest is needed after spine surgery? ›

You'll be encouraged to walk and move around the day after surgery and it's likely you'll be discharged 1 to 4 days afterwards. It will take about 4 to 6 weeks for you to reach your expected level of mobility and function (this will depend on the severity of your condition and symptoms before the operation).

What do I need at home after spinal surgery? ›

  • Cane or walker. A cane or walker can help add support and security as you take your first steps around your home and neighborhood.
  • Grabber device. ...
  • Toilet riser. ...
  • Shower seat/mat. ...
  • Recliner. ...
  • Body pillow. ...
  • Silk pajamas. ...
  • Back brace.

How many hours is spinal fusion surgery? ›

Spinal fusion surgery usually takes four to six hours, but the time varies according to the individual patient. The surgeons will take as long as they need to do the job well.

How bad is the pain after spinal fusion surgery? ›

After surgery, pain and stiffness are common. Most patients experience a decrease in back pain immediately after the operation, but in some cases it may take longer. Numbness and tingling may be the slowest to resolve. Improvement in back pain and function can continue up to two years after spine fusion surgery.

How long are you in recovery room after spinal fusion? ›

If you are having outpatient surgery, you will remain in the recovery room for one to two hours. When you are ready to go home, you will be given discharge instructions and prescriptions. You MUST have someone to drive you home.

Can I take care of myself after back surgery? ›

Do not do strenuous activities, like jogging or golfing; do not due household duties that put a strain on the back, like gardening and vacuuming. Attend all physical therapy sessions prescribed by the physician. Do not drive for the first two weeks after surgery, and then slowly build up driving time as necessary.

Do you go to rehab after spinal surgery? ›

Spine surgery is a major undertaking, and rehabilitation is an important part of helping patients get the most possible benefit from their surgery. Essentially, rehabilitation (physical therapy, exercise) can help patients recover from spine surgery as quickly and completely as possible.

Can you stay alone after back surgery? ›

Arrange For Someone To Care For You

It's dangerous to try to heal on your own after surgery, and quite frankly, we strongly advise against it. If you live alone, please have a family member or friend take care of you during the first few days and weeks into your recovery. If no one is available, talk to Dr.

What not to do after spinal surgery? ›

It's best to avoid lifting anything over ten pounds following surgery. In addition, avoid bending over at the waist and instead bend at the knees or squat when picking up light objects.


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3. Nebraska Spine Hospital - Prepare Home for Recovery
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4. Nebraska Spine Hospital - What to Expect When Arriving
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