Piedmont Spine Center welcomes your questions! We understand that whether you plan to be in the hospital 10 hours or 10 days to undergo spine surgery, you and your family members have questions and concerns. Many frequently asked questions are answered below.
You wake up from anesthesia in the recovery room. Your pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen levels continue to be closely monitored. Expect to feel groggy. Your throat may feel sore from the tube inserted into your larynx to keep your airway open during surgery. You may be offered ice chips or sips of water.
Don't be surprised if you experience shakiness as you come out of anesthesia. This is temporary and the warm blankets the recovery room staff provides can help.
You may be aware that you have a urinary catheter (called a Foley catheter) coming from your bladder. This is a small flexible tube inserted into your bladder and attached to a portable bag that captures urine. Your urinary output is monitored and the bag emptied by the nursing staff. Patients sometimes report that the catheter may make you feel like you have to urinate.
Despite the discomforts of surgery, some patients experience an immediate awareness of relief from nerve compression pain. You may feel pain or tingling in your arms or legs, depending on the location of the spine surgery. Post-operative pain is to be expected and you may feel pain at the incision site. Knowing this in advance may help prevent feelings of discouragement or anxiety after surgery.
Pain is an expected part of any surgery. Every patient's pain experience is different. Some patients can tolerate a lot of pain, and others less. However, rest assured that we anticipate postoperative pain and will administer medication to help you manage your pain during your hospital stay.
Describing your pain can help your care team determine which type of pain medication to use. You will also be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10. This process can assist your nurse in assessing normal or expected pain versus pain that is unusual, requiring special consideration.
You will know before your surgery whether your procedure is in-patient (longer than a 24-hour stay) or out-patient (less than a 24-hour stay).
Generally speaking, you will stay in the hospital until your spine surgeon is comfortable that your health is stable and it is safe for you to be discharged. Depending on the type of surgery you have, your surgeon may require you to meet specific milestones before you are discharged. This may include walking without assistance, urinating, sitting for short periods of time, and evidence that neurologic function is stable. Hospital stays are no longer a period of extensive bedrest, but a time for active recovery through patient participation.
If you have an out-patient procedure, you recover from anesthesia and continue to be closely monitored in the recovery room. When you are alert, we will help you sit on the edge of the bed, then stand and walk. You will be given pain medication during this time. When you are alert, stable and ready, you are discharged to go home. We transport you by wheelchair to your car. You must have someone drive you home. Since you will have a prescription for pain medication to be filled, plan on having a friend or relative take care of this while you rest at home.
If you have an in-patient procedure, the average hospital stay is two to three days. Your experience may differ, depending on the type and extent of your spine surgery.
Day of Surgery: After surgery and time in the recovery room, you are moved to a regular hospital room. Once in your room, you continue to recover from anesthesia and may be drowsy, or in and out of sleep. Your breathing, circulation and neurologic function is monitored; the incision site is observed for bleeding. You may begin to sit, stand with assistance, and walk when you are ready.
Day after Surgery: Also known as post-op day #1. Your surgeon visits you to evaluate your progress. Your surgical dressing, neurologic function, breathing and circulation continue to be monitored. Your surgical pain may be worse; be sure to keep the nurse informed of your pain level. Depending on your surgeon's orders, you may be visited by a physical therapist.
Discharge: Before you are discharged, the hospital staff provides you with a set of written instructions for home care. By wheelchair, you will be transported to your vehicle. You must have someone drive you home. For more detailed information, please refer to the Piedmont Spine Center Spine Manual. Insert hyperlink
We offer a variety of educational opportunities to support you before and after your procedure. Please visit our Patient Resources page to find out how we can help.
Before your surgery, an intravenous line (IV) is inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. Once the IV is placed in the vein, it is taped down and should not be painful. If it is, let your nurse know. The IV line is used to deliver medication directly into your bloodstream, as well as give you fluids to prevent dehydration.
After your surgery, even after IV fluids are discontinued, the IV port may remain in place until you are discharged. The nurse will flush the IV port regularly with a solution to keep it clean and clear. It is important to maintain IV access throughout your stay, in case the hospital staff needs to administer medication or fluids quickly.
Breathing exercises help to move and expel any fluid that may collect in your lungs as a result of lying still for long periods of time. Fluid in your lungs puts you at risk of pneumonia. These exercises will be demonstrated to you by a member of the nursing staff. Continue to do these breathing exercises for a week after you go home.
You may be given compression stockings to wear before your surgery. These may be made of cloth and cover your calves, or go up your thighs. Another type involves plastic balloon-like stockings that fill with air, compress your legs, release, and refill in cycles. The stockings help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a dangerous condition in which blood can pool and clot in the legs. Lying still for long periods of time contributes to the development of DVT. If a blood clot develops, it can break free and travel to the heart, lungs, or brain. Walking after surgery is important to help prevent DVT.
Twisting your body to get in or out of bed can be painful and put a strain on your surgical site.
To get out of bed, roll to the edge of the bed keeping your head, shoulders, back, and hips in alignment. Lower your feet to the floor as you rise up on your elbow. Keep your back as straight as possible as you sit up. You can then slide forward to a standing position.
To get into bed, reverse the motion. Sit on the edge of the bed. Use your elbow to move to a lying down position while you bring your feet up onto the bed. Roll onto your back or side. You may need some help at first.
Please contact Piedmont Spine Center. We look forward to answering your questions and helping you to resolve your concerns about any treatment offered by Piedmont Spine Center.