What to expect if you're having spinal surgery
Preparing for the procedure
There are a number of things you can do to prepare yourself for spinal surgery.
In the weeks before your surgery, eat a balanced diet as this can help the healing process.
If you smoke, stop as far ahead of the surgery as possible. Smoking can cause complications with the anaesthetic and nicotine can delay healing and bone growth (smoking can also lead to mechanical implant failure).
As some activities may be restricted immediately following your surgery, you may find it helpful to prepare for your post-operative recovery before admission.
Pre-operative assessment clinic
Within a month (ten days to one week) of your operation, you may be invited to attend the pre-operative assessment clinic. During this visit, you will be asked about your medical history and any medications you are taking.
This clinic is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have and to plan for your discharge from hospital.
If you have a history of MRSA or have been in contact with someone with MRSA, please let us know as soon as you have a surgery date. We will need to take some swabs to ensure you do not have any MRSA that might get into your wound at the time of surgery.
What happens before I have my spinal surgery?
Your consultant will talk you through the procedure and a consultant anaesthetist will then administer a general anaesthetic.
After the procedure
When your surgery is completed, you will be moved to the recovery room where you will be observed and monitored by a nurse until you awake from the anaesthetic. You will then be transferred to a ward where the ward team will work closely with you to aid your recovery.
You will have a drip for intravenous fluids through a vein into your arm or hand which will continue for a number of hours after your surgery. The nursing team looking after you will let you know when you can eat again.
As with any surgery you may have some pain and discomfort due to the surgery itself. If you had pain and numbness before surgery, you may still have these afterwards.
You will not be discharged until all the members of the team who treated you are confident that you are well enough. Elderly or debilitated patients who are having extensive surgery may wish to consider convalescence.
Risks and complications of spinal surgery
The risks of surgery are no greater than for any other surgery and depend on you, and your current health status. Your consultant will discuss the risks with you before surgery.