Surgery FAQs

After Surgery

How long will surgery take?

Surgery times may vary depending upon the difficulty of your case. The surgery may take several hours. Generally, you may spend 2 to 3 hours in surgery in 2 to 3 hours in the recovery room.

How does Dr. Hartshorn communicate to my family that the surgery is completed?

Prior to surgery, the phone number of a family representative will be obtained by the nurse and confirmed by the surgeon. Immediately after the surgery is completed, Dr. Hartshorn will call the family member (from the operating room) to discuss the surgery. Family does not have to wait in the waiting room specifically as Dr. Hartshorn will call the phone number provided as soon as surgery is completed.

What will my hospital stay be like?

The 1st night of your stay, you will most likely be somewhat "groggy" from the medications you received in surgery. He will be taken to your hospital room directly from the recovery room in your hospital bed to avoid transferring you from stretcher to bed. Once you are fully awake, you will be able to eat and drink as tolerated. Your vital signs, urinary output, and any drainage will be monitored closely by the nurses on the surgery floor. Appropriate pain medicine for the 1st 24 hours may be administered by intravenous method. Typically, you will be getting out of bed and working with physical and occupational therapy the day after surgery. The sessions are vital to your progress.

WilI I see my doctor regularly while in the hospital?

Our surgeons make rounds daily on our patients whenever possible. In addition, the orthopedic resident doctors or physician assistants may make rounds to monitor your progress and make any changes required for your care. The case manager will also meet with you (and family members if necessary) in order to assure the proper discharge plan for your particular case.

How will I know whether to go home or to another facility for further rehab?

In general, if you live with someone who will be assisting you, discharge home is the usual procedure. Arrangements for further home or outpatient physical therapy will be made by the case manager. Most patients can go directly home if they are deemed safe by the physician and therapists. While not required, it is highly recommended to have someone to assist you for the first 48 to 72 hours after discharge on a full-time basis and perhaps part-time for a week or two after this. If you live alone or in an environment at home where your safety is in question, you may be recommended for placement in a rehabilitation center. These facilities are usually available to a patient for a 3-5 day stay, with emphasis on returning the patient home in a short period after aggressively addressing any problems with patient independence. If you live alone or are not progressing rapidly enough in therapy sessions, and it is unlikely you will be able to do so in a rehab setting, a subacute facility may be recommended for a longer period of recuperation. The choices available depend upon the patient's insurance coverage and, therefore, will need to be discussed by the patient, the case manager, and the insurance company as warranted.

Will I need pain medicine after an discharge from the hospital?

Most patients do require a short-term course of pain medication. Please refer to our Opioid Policy for specific details.

When can I drive?

Driving routinely is not permitted before 6 weeks from the time of your surgery. However, the type of surgery, the side of surgery (left versus right leg), and the patient's overall general condition plays a part in this decision. If you feel you will need to drive earlier than the 6 week routine prescribed, you should discuss this with your surgeon and obtain approval.

When will I be able to return to work?

This varies significantly between patients Depending on the surgery performed, some patients may be able to go back to work in a few days, while others may not be able to return for many months. This will be discussed with each patient after surgery, and an estimation will be provided as to when it is safe to return to work activities.

When will I be able to have sexual intercourse after my surgery?

In most cases, sexual activities can be resumed when the patient feels comfortable enough to do so. If the patient has been cautioned to maintain certain position restrictions, these restrictions should be followed in this instance also. In general, most patients resume their normal sexual activities between 4 to 6 weeks following surgery.

When can friends/family see you after surgery?

From the operating room, you will be brought to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) where a registered nurse will care for you until your anesthesia wears off. Visiting a patient in the PACU is at the discretion of the nurse, and is based on your condition and the condition and privacy of those around you. The staff will make every effort to keep your designated family or friend updated on your status. If you are scheduled to stay in the hospital overnight, you will be taken to your room when you are alert and comfortable.

What kinds of tests will I need before surgery?

All pateints are required to have routine blood work and urinalysis performed. These tests are usually performed within 14 days of the scheduled surgery. In addition, all patients are required to have a physical examination within 30 days of the surgical date. Patients over the age of 50 are required to have an EKG and chest x-ray performed within 30 days of the surgical date. Most pre-admission testing and physical evaluations can be performed by the patient's personal physician. Please be advised that if an abnormal exam or test result is reported, further evaluation or repeat testing may be required. This does not necessarily mean surgery is canceled, but for your own safety, it is standard procedure to conduct further investigation.

What medications should I take or stop before surgery?

If you are currently taking medications, please refero to our easy-to-follow chart regarding each of your medications. If you are having a joint replacement surgery, It is generally recommended that patients take an iron supplement prior to surgery. This can be purchased from any drugstore. If you have diabetes, be sure to talk with your primary care physician as well as the hospital/nurse about whether you need to adjust your insulin or other diabetes medications on the night before and/or the morning of surgery. If you take a blood thinner such as Coumadin or Plavix, speak with your cardiologist/prescribing physician about whether it is safe for you to stop the medication prior to surgery.

How long will I be in the hospital?

If you are having a knee or shoulder arthroscopy, you will very likely be discharged home the same day as your surgery. For joint replacement surgery, most patients are hospitalized for one to 2 days. If it is not safe for you to go home after 2 days, the hospital case manager will work with you and your family will help you coordinate a transfer to a rehabilitation center or subacute facility of your choice.

What should I bring to the hospital?

If you are having outpatient surgery, please bring a list of your current medications including dosages. If you are having joint replacement surgery, please bring your personal toiletries with you as well as loose fitting, comfortable clothing and non-skid shoes or slippers. If you have an assistive device that you plan to use after discharge (walker, cane, crutches), you should have someone bring this in prior to discharge so the physical therapist can check to assure that it is the adequate size for you. It is not recommended that you bring jewelry, cash, or other items of value.

When should I arrive at the hospital?

Our office, and usually the hospital as well, will be in touch with you regarding your exact arrival time. Patients are generally requested to arrive at the hospital 2 hours prior to the scheduled surgery time. This allows time for you to go through the admission process, change into hospital clothing, and meet the anesthesiologist and nursing personnel who will be with you during your surgery.

What happens if I get sick before surgery or have an infection?

Contact us immediately if you develop cold or flu symptoms, sore throat, fever, productive cough, or any other signs of an infection. Your surgery will likely need to be rescheduled. Anytime an implant is being placed into a patient that has an active infection, the risk of the surgical site or joint getting subsequently infected is much higher.

What type of anesthesia will I have?

Before your surgery, you will have a chance to discuss this with your anesthesiologist in the pre-operative area with your family present. Most cases are performed under general anesthesia. You are put to sleep and do not feel any pain during surgery. The preferred method for knee and hip replacement surgery is spinal anesthesia unless there is a recommendation to the contrary from the anesthesiologist. This is where an injection is peformed into your spine before surgery. You are kept awake and also do not feel any pain during surgery.

Should I shower with a special soap before surgery?

At Ortho.Boston, we take every opportunity to reduce the chance of infection after surgery. Please shower the night before AND the morning of your surgery with an antiseptic soap called "Chlorhexidine Gluconate" or "Hibiclens." You can purchase this soap at the drug store if you have not received it from us or the hospital. It is called either "chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) antiseptic soap" or "Hibiclens" and may come in 2% or 4% strength. You may use either. Please click here to read the showering instructions. If you are unable to find Hibiclens, you may use an alternative antibacterial soap such as Lever, Dial, or Safeguard.

Can I eat after midnight or the morning of surgery?

No. The night before your surgery, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight. This includes gum, candies, and mints. You can take any medications you were instructed to take the morning of the surgery with a small sip of water.

Where do I go when I arrive at the facility for surgery?

Our office will communicate this to you either by telephone or mail. Typically, pateint's report to the "Patient Registration" area. From there, you will be directed to the surgical pre-operative area. Your family member or friend may come with you.

Before Surgery