Ask a Vail Sports Doc: What to expect before and after surgery
October 6, 2017
If suffering an injury isn't enough, then being advised you will require surgical intervention as the result of an injury can create increased levels of nervousness and anxiety.
It is our responsibility as orthopedic professionals to make sure each patient is prepared for surgery with regards to procedure education, pre- and post-operative expectations and anticipated recovery.
Whether an elite athlete or a recreational one, we are committed to helping patients regain their momentum and being informed is the first step.
Following a surgical recommendation, your orthopedic specialist will schedule you for a pre-operative appointment to meet with the surgeon and/or the physician assistant to discuss a surgical "game plan," individualized per patient. General discussion points during this appointment include patient consents as well as a review of your medical history and physical examination prior to surgery.
“While all surgeries have some risk, surgical complications are infrequent. General risks to surgery include anesthesia, post-operative infection, deep vein thrombosis, nerve and blood vessel injury, bruising and swelling as well as post-operative pain. Your caregiver will use their expertise to try and prevent any surgical complication and ensure a smooth post-operative recovery.”
Current medications and medication allergies are reviewed at this time to ensure optimal care both intra-operatively as well as post-surgically. Additional lab work may be required prior to surgery pending your medical history. Your caregiver will obtain a written consent confirming your procedure and facility as well as provide you with information regarding anesthesia and pre-operative instruction such as "no eating or drinking after midnight" prior to your surgery.
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At this time you will be asked to confirm a ride home from the hospital as well as be provided with recommendations for preparing your home for surgery such as removing items you can trip over or setting up your home to be able to live on one level in the first weeks following your procedure.
While all surgeries have some risk, surgical complications are infrequent. General risks to surgery include anesthesia, post-operative infection, deep vein thrombosis, nerve and blood vessel injury, bruising and swelling as well as post-operative pain. Your caregiver will use their expertise to try and prevent any surgical complication and ensure a smooth post-operative recovery.
The surgical procedure will also be discussed during this visit; including recommended technique as well as items such as graft choice as necessary, post-operative dressings and bracing as well as formal physical therapy. Patients are encouraged to ask questions. Your surgeon or physician assistant will recommend making your first post-operative follow-up appointment generally one to two weeks following your procedure for a wound and range of motion check, possible X-ray imaging and to address any initial post-operative questions or concerns.
Reinforcement on dressing change instruction may be reviewed at this time and you may require suture or staple removal. Post-operative restrictions such as weight-bearing or range of motion limitations (as provided to you during your pre-operative appointment) will be discussed in greater detail in addition to further education regarding formal physical therapy as necessary.
Caring for professional and recreational athletes alike, it is our responsibility to help people of all ages get back to his or her active lifestyle by first addressing surgical expectations and ensure a successful surgical plan.
Victoria Stanislawski is an athletic trainer to Dr. Richard Cunningham, M.D., Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. She received her undergraduate degree in athletic training/health education from Kean University and her master's degree from the University of South Carolina. As a graduate assistant, she worked as a certified athletic trainer for the USC cheerleading and equestrian teams. She is a board-certified orthopaedic technologist and licensed surgical assistant. For more information, visit http://www.VailKnee.com.
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