What Are Preop Protocols?

Any type of surgery has risks. When you’re scheduled for spine surgery, you want to give yourself the best chances of a good outcome, without complications. 

Our founder, Jocelyn R. Idema, DO, is an expert in minimally invasive spine surgery techniques. We at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center believe that successful surgery begins by following thoughtful preoperative protocols. Here’s what those preop protocols are and why they’re important.

Quit smoking and drug use

You already know that smoking or using any form of tobacco is bad for your health. Tobacco use is also bad for surgical outcomes.

The substances in tobacco put you at risk for a number of surgical and postsurgical complications, such as: 

If you need anesthesia for your operation, your anesthesiologist may have to give you bronchodilators if you’re a smoker. Smoking also reduces blood flow, which slows healing and increases the risk of infection. 

Because your heart has to work harder if you smoke, you have a 77% increased chance of heart attack during surgery, compared to nonsmokers. Although it’s best to quit a year or more before your surgery, even quitting one day before your operation increases the amount of healthy oxygen in your blood.

Abusing drugs or alcohol also increases your risk for complications. If you need help quitting smoking or overusing alcohol or drugs, we can refer you to a cessation program.

Avoid blood-thinning substances

Aspirin and foods and herbs like garlic and ginseng thin your blood, which raises your risk for bleeding excessively during your surgery. We give you a list of substances to avoid for up to two weeks before your operation, including:

You may also need to avoid high-fiber foods, including fruits and vegetables, for about 24 hours before your surgery. You can call us if you have any questions about your preop protocol.

Get an exam

Depending on the type of surgery you need, Dr. Idema may conduct a thorough physical exam and lab tests to be sure that you’re healthy. Such tests may include:

If Dr. Idema detects an underlying health condition, she may delay the surgery until you and your doctors resolve or control the condition.

Take a shower

Take a shower the day of your surgery, but don’t use soaps that contain ingredients that stay on your skin, such as moisturizers. Avoid lotions, creams, and deodorants.

When you come for your surgery, we clean and disinfect the operative area. Depending on your situation, we may also shave excess hair. We want to create as clean a field as possible to minimize the risk for infection.

Line up the help you need

Whether you undergo general anesthesia or not, you need a ride home from our practice or the hospital. Even local anesthesia makes you groggy. Surgery also takes a toll on your body, which makes you feel fatigued. 

You may need someone to help you with cooking and household chores while you recover. We let you know the types of services you might require.

If you need surgery for back pain, call our office in McKees Rocks, Pittsburgh, or Washington, Pennsylvania. You can also use our convenient online system to request an appointment.

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