Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care: School of Medicine: University of California, Irvine

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Health Facts

Orthopedic

Hand Surgery

What to Expect for a Hand Surgery

Types of anesthesia

Regional block and sedation is a common choice for this surgery. Occasionally general anesthesia may be administered. Therefore, you may or may not know what is going on when the surgery starts.

Occasionally, you may experience a sore throat after surgery but it should improve over the next 24 hours after surgery.

Day of discharge

Typically you will be discharged to go home the same day as the surgery.

What to expect after surgery and post-surgical care

  • For the pain: Pain medication will usually be administered through a patient control analgesic pump. The pump will deliver a pre-set pain medication at your demand through pushing a button.
  • Your arm will be supported by a foam support and make sure to keep your hand elevated
  • Check the color of your fingers periodically during the first 48 hours
  • You may need additional course of antibiotics
  • You may experience some nausea and vomiting related to the use of pain medication. Please let your doctors (anesthesiologists and surgeon) know in advanced if you experience vomiting during car rides or have history of nausea.
  • You are expected to use the exposed fingers for light activities such as eating and dressing
  • There will be some specific exercises for your hand (please follow your doctor’s instructions)
  • Limited activities of your operated hand
  • Do not smoke for one month after you have had microsurgery

Activities (Please follow the detailed instructions given by your doctor)

  • No driving or operating heavy machinery for the first 24 hours
  • You should not drive if you are still taking narcotic medication and while having foam support around your arm
  • You may bathe or shower at any time after surgery, but keep your dressing clean and dry (place a large plastic bag over your splint when you shower or bathe to prevent the dressing from getting wet.)
  • You may be able to use a treadmill and exercise bike, please be conservative and safe
  • Do not life more than 1 gallon of milk

When to contact a doctor

  • The color of your fingers becomes pale or discoloration at the exposed site beyond dressing
  • Sudden worsening of pain in spite of elevation of hand
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting

Spine Surgery

What to Expect for a Spine Surgery

Types of anesthesia

General anesthesia, that means you will not know what is going on when the surgery starts. Occasionally, you may experience a sore throat after surgery but it should improve over the next 24 hours after surgery.

Day of discharge

The length of hospitalization can vary greatly between procedures types as well as the patients’ conditions:

  • Cervical surgery: 2 days hospitalization
  • Lumbar decompression surgery: 2 days hospitalization
  • Fusion surgery: 4-5 days hospitalization
  • Minimum invasive lumbar fusion: 1-2 days of hospitalization
  • Complex scoliosis surgery: can be up to days to weeks

What to expect after surgery and post-surgical care

  • For Pain: pain medication will usually be delivered through a patient control analgesic pump. The pump will deliver a pre-set pain medication as your demand through pushing a button.
  • Spasm: usually this type of pain will not get better with pain medication. Please ask the nursing staff for an anti-spasm medication.
  • Drainage tubing: if you have drainage tubes, the surgeon will remove it after two days
  • You will be anticipated to be working toward a rehabilitation routine 3-5 days after your surgery, which includes physical therapy, progressing your diet and being able to urinate on your own.
  • Limited activities

Activities (Please follow the detailed instructions given by your doctor)

For the first week:

  • Take frequent rest
  • A progressive walking program as prescribed by your doctor and physical therapist
  • You may be able to use treadmill and exercise bike. Please be conservative and safe
  • No lifting of greater than 10lbs
  • No stooping, twisting, lifting, housework, and yard work

As weeks progress you may increase your amount of activities, returning to work or not will be based on your type of work and your doctor’s recommendation.

When to contact a doctor

  • Fever of more then 101°F
  • Expanding redness at the incision site
  • Worsening of pain
  • Change in appearance, odor or drainage

Ankle and Foot Surgery

What to Expect for an Ankle Surgery or Foot Surgery

Types of anesthesia

Regional anesthesia with or without sedation, or general anesthesia, that means you will not know what is going on when the surgery starts. Occasionally, you may experience sore throat after surgery but it should improve over the next 24 hours after surgery.

Day of discharge

You will usually go home the same day of the surgery, but if you are experiencing uncontrollable pain, persistent nausea and vomiting then a stay in the hospital is necessary.

What to expect after surgery and post-surgical care

  • Swelling and discomfort in the foot or ankle for several days up to a week after surgery.
  • Black and blue marks around your incisions; sometimes they develop after a few days.
  • Small amount of blood on the surgical dressing may be noted
  • Take your pain medication as directed
  • Nausea and itching may occur with narcotic medications. For mild itching you can take Benadryl.
  • Keep the foot elevated higher than the level of your heart to control swelling and pain

Activities (Please follow the detailed instructions given by your doctor)

  • Bed rest and gradually increase the amount of activities
  • Follow the instruction from your doctor and physical therapist
  • The time to resume normal activities will based upon the type of procedure, and your level of fitness

When to contact a doctor

  • Bleeding continues or if toes are cold and blue
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting or a rash developing after taking narcotic pain medication
  • Continuous drainage from the incision, redness, swelling of the ankle joint
  • Fever of more then 101°F

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

What to Expect for a Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Types of anesthesia

Regional anesthesia with or without sedation, or general anesthesia, that means you will not know what is going on when the surgery starts. Occasionally, you may experience sore throat after surgery but it should improve over the next 24 hours after surgery.

Day of discharge

You can usually go home the same day of the surgery. If you are experiencing uncontrollable pain, nausea, vomiting or cannot urinate after the spinal anesthesia, then a stay in the hospital is necessary.

What to expect after surgery and post-surgical care

  • Swelling and discomfort in the knee for several days to a week after surgery
  • Black and blue marks around your incisions; sometimes they develop after a few days
  • Nausea and itching may occur with narcotic medications. For mild itching you can take Benadryl.
  • Mild constipation because of narcotics. Taking Colace or Senokot often helps.
  • Keep the leg elevated higher than the level of your pelvic to control swelling and pain
  • Wear compressed stocking on your operated leg at all times for the first week
  • Apply cold compress or ice bags to the operated knee to control the swelling and pain every 30 minutes and be sure to put a sheet of towel between your skin and ice bag for the first 72 hours
  • Pump your ankle up and down several times an hour to keep the blood circulating in your leg
  • Take your pain medication as directed
  • Work with a physical therapist for recovery at home

Activities (Please follow the detailed instructions given by your doctor)

  • Bed rest and gradually increase the amount of activities
  • Follow instructions from your doctor and physical therapist
  • The time to resume normal activities will be based upon the types of procedure and your level of fitness

When to contact a doctor

  • Ankle/calf pain and swelling that does not respond to elevation (emergency room visit)
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting or a rash developing after taking narcotic pain medication
  • Continuous drainage from the incision, redness, swelling of the knee joint
  • Fever of more then 101°F

Hip Surgery

What to Expect for a Hip Surgery

Types of anesthesia

Spinal anesthesia with or without sedation, or general anesthesia, that means you will not know what is going on when the surgery starts. Occasionally, you may experience sore throat after surgery but it should improve over the next 24 hours after surgery.

Day of discharge

You will usually stay in the hospital for few days up to one week or more.

What to expect after surgery and post-surgical care

  • When you wake up from surgery, you may have a urinary catheter, which connects to your bladder.
  • You will have a compression pump or compression stocking on your leg to prevent blood clots
  • You will have cushion between your legs to keep your new hip in the correct position
  • You will need to practice breathing exercises to prevent your lungs from being congested
  • You need to pay attention and follow the instructions given by the physical therapist and your doctor to learn the precise way not to cause any problems with the newly replaced hip.
  • You will sit in high chair, raised toilet seat, and sleep on your back
  • You will need a walker or crutches
  • There will be an exercise program to help you recover
  • The recovery will take at least 8 weeks, so please be patient

Activities (Please follow the detailed instructions given by your doctor)

  • Move your feet up and down to flex your muscles and to keep your blood circulating.
  • Learn about how to keep your hip in the correct position while you move in and out of be.
  • Rehabilitation after hip replacement surgery may vary depending on your doctor’s recommendations
  • Avoid a combination of movement with your new hip. Do not raise your knee higher than your hip.
  • Please follow your doctor’s suggestion about whether you can bend your hip or not
  • Based on the type of hip replacement, you may not place any weight on your hip immediately after your surgery up to about 6 weeks

When to contact a doctor

  • Any redness or drainage from your wound
  • If temperature greater than 100.5°F
  • Sudden development of difficulty in breathing