The decision to have surgery is yours and should not be rushed. You should only make your final decision once you are satisfied with the information you have received from your surgeon.
It is important to remember that it cannot be guaranteed that surgery will meet all of your expectations. It should also be considered that all surgery carries a degree of risk and that risks are higher in certain individuals.
Preparing for surgery:
Please inform your surgeon if:
- You are diabetic
- You have any allergies
- You take Warfarin, Aspirin, Rivaroxaban, Apixiban or other blood thinning medications – stopping these will be discussed prior to your surgery.
- You are taking drugs that can supress your immune system
- You are currently undergoing other medical or alternative therapy
- You have no one at home to assist you when you are discharged.
Tips to make your homecoming more comfortable:
- Securely fasten electrical cords around the perimeter of the room.
- Rearrange furniture to allow you to move easily with crutches or a walker frame.
- Remove any throws/rugs that could cause you to trip.
- Consider temporarily changing rooms to allow you to avoid stairs if at all possible (especially for those having joint replacement surgery).
Eating and drinking before surgery
- For general anaesthetic you must stop eating for 6 hours before your operation.
- You can have only water up until 3 hours before.
- Nothing can be consumed for three hours up to your operation.
What happens when I arrive at the hospital for my operation?
- You will usually be admitted on the day of you operation unless stated otherwise.
- You will be shown to your room and informed of what will happen during your stay
- You must remove all jewellery, make-up, nail varnish, contact lenses, glasses, dentures, dental plates and hearing aids. Valuables can be locked away in a secure place.
- All the necessary tests will be carried out before your operation. These include blood pressure, temperature and pulse as well as blood tests and x-rays if necessary.
- You will be measured for and given compression stocking which must be worn to reduce your risk of a blood clot in your leg (DVT).
- An anaesthetist will see you to discuss the anaesthetic and pain relief following your operation.
- You will be asked to sign a consent form. This confirms that you agree to undergo the operation stated, that you understand the procedure and the risks associated. Please do not hesitate to ask any further questions.
- A physiotherapist will spend time with you and plan your post-operative physiotherapy treatment. You will also be shown bed exercises and how to get into an out of bed safely following your operation.
Will I be in pain after my operation?
- Pain levels differ between patients and some need more pain relief than others
- It is better to stay on top of your pain than to wait before it gets bad Please ask for assistance with pain relief if you are in any discomfort following your operation.
Discharge from hospital:
- The approximate time you will stay in hospital depends on your operation and how well you recover following surgery.
- Please arrange for a friend or family member to take you home.
- For day surgery it is recommended that you have someone to look after you in the first 24 hours following surgery.
- For joint replacement surgery it is recommended that you have someone to look after you for at least the first 2 weeks after discharge from hospital.
- You will be given medications and painkillers to take home with you.
- Your physiotherapist will give you exercises and the ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’.
- A letter will be sent to your GP (with your consent) explaining your operation.
Driving after surgery:
- More specific guidelines will be given depending on the type of surgery you have had. Generally it is recommended that driving should be avoided for at least 6 weeks after joint replacement surgery.
- Your progress will be reviewed after discharge from hospital at your first post-operative clinic review to discuss these details with you again.
- You should inform your insurance company that you will be resuming driving following your operation once you have been cleared to drive by your surgeon.
The risks and complications of surgery:
Despite the highest standards of practice, all surgical procedures have risks. Whilst every attempt is made to minimise risks, complications can occur.
If you do not understand the risks associated with a surgical procedure or need more clarification you should inform your surgeon. It is important to be fully informed and understand risks to allow you to fully weigh up the benefits and risks of surgery.
General Risks of surgery include:
- Allergies to anaesthetic agents, antiseptic solutions, suture material, dressings, medications
- Pain and discomfort around the surgical site
- Wound breakdown
- Superficial and deep surgical site infections
- Thrombosis- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or Pulmonary embolism
- Nerve and vessel injury
- Kidney failure/Heart attack/Stroke/Death-these are extremely rare complications following elective surgery.
Risks are increased by factors such as:
- Increased alcohol intake
- Being overweight (BMI >35)
- Improper wound care
- Long periods of immobility
- Previous history of thrombosis
Long haul travel is discouraged in the first 6 weeks post-operation. Patients who have had a recent operation should contact their surgeon before travelling long haul.
If you are travelling for longer than 6 hours by any mode of transport then following these steps may reduce your risk of developing a DVT:
- Maintain good fluid intake
- Avoid alcohol
- Maintain regular foot and ankle exercises to pump blood through calves and regularly stand up to relieve pressure from thigh.
- Wear fitted compression stocking
Those with a history of blood clots should contact your surgeon as they may require blood thinner medication prior to travel.